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  Subterraneobombus annotated checklist
OrientalibombusMegabombus Subterraneobombus
Back to tree Number of species in equal-area (611,000 km²) grid cells with an equal-interval blue scale.
11 species
B. borealis
B. borealis queen visiting Vicia.

ecology and behaviour


HABITAT: Alpine grassland, open grassland, and semi-desert.


FOOD-PLANTS: Long tongue-length bumblebees visiting deep flowers.


NESTING BEHAVIOUR: Nests underground or sometimes on the surface. Pocket-makers.


MATE-SEARCHING BEHAVIOUR: Males recorded patrolling circuits of scent marks. Males also recorded congregating at the entrances of nests to pursue emerging queens.


Bombus (Subterraneobombus) Vogt, 1911:62, type-species Apis subterranea Linnaeus (= Bombus subterraneus (Linnaeus)) by subsequent designation of Frison, 1927:68
Subterraneibombus Skorikov, 1938a:145, unjustified emendation


Part of the bumblebee phylogenetic tree including available Subterraneobombus species from an analysis of DNA sequence data for five genes (Cameron et al. 2007 [pdf]). Values above branches are Bayesian posterior probabilities, values below branches are parsimony bootstrap values. For an alternative Bayesian tree from a much larger sample of COI barcodes, see Williams et al. (2011 [pdf]).






Bombus (St.) personatus Smithsubgeneric listall names
personatus Smith, 1879:132, examined
Roborowskyi Morawitz, 1887:197, examined
6 names

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Oriental Region.


Bombus (St.) melanurus Lepeletiersubgeneric listall names
melanurus Lepeletier, [1835]:469, examined
Tschitscherini Radoszkowski, 1862:591
[lan-tschóuensis Vogt, 1909:53, infrasubspecific]
subdistinctus Richards, 1928a:333, examined
lantschouensis Tkalcu, 1961:360, examined, not of Vogt, 1908:101 (= B. patagiatus Nylander)

14 names

TAXONOMIC STATUS: The taxa melanurus, difficillimus, and tschitscherini have been treated both as conspecific and as separate species (Williams, 1991 [pdf]). Aside from differences in colour pattern, they are closely similar in morphology.

Nonetheless, B. melanurus can be differentiated by the morphology of the male genitalia (Williams, 1991 [pdf]). Evidence from comparisons of 16S gene sequences is consistent with B. melanurus and B. difficillimus being separate species (Cameron et al., 2007 [pdf]). A study of larger samples of COI barcodes (Williams et al., 2011 [pdf]) supports the interpretation that B. melanurus is a broadly distributed species that includes the taxon tschitscherini, while B. difficillimus is well supported as a separate species. It remains possible that the taxon tschitscherini might be considered a separate species, depending on which species concept is applied.

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Oriental, Palaearctic Regions.


Bombus (St.) difficillimus Skorikovsubgeneric listall names
difficillimus Skorikov, 1912:609, examined
3 names

TAXONOMIC STATUS: See the comments on B. melanurus.

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Oriental Region, Palaearctic borders.


Bombus (St.) mongolensis Williamssubgeneric listall names
mongolensis Williams in Williams et al., 2011:840 examined
1 name

TAXONOMIC STATUS: This species has recently been recognised, initially from the morphology of the male genitalia, but then from differences in COI barcodes (Williams et al., 2011 [pdf]).

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic Region.


Bombus (St.) fedtschenkoi Morawitzsubgeneric listall names
Fedtschenkoi Morawitz in Fedtschenko, 1875:5, examined
Vogt, 1911:63, examined
11 names

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic Region.


Bombus (St.) amurensis Radoszkowskisubgeneric listall names
Amurensis Radoszkowski, 1862:590, examined
mongol Skorikov, 1912:607, examined
chaharensis Yasumatsu, 1940:94, type lost
3 names

TAXONOMIC STATUS: This species has been much confused with B. fragrans (Williams et al., 2011 [pdf]).

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic Region, Oriental borders.


Bombus (St.) fragrans (Pallas)subgeneric listall names
fragrans (Pallas, 1771:474 [Apis]) type lost
4 names

TAXONOMIC STATUS: This species has been much confused in Asia with B. amurensis (Williams et al., 2011 [pdf]).

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic Region.

IUCN CONSERVATION STATUS: Preliminary assessment as VULNERABLE (Williams & Osborne, 2009) by criterion A2 (IUCN, 2001, 2008) that it has undergone a a substantial decline in area of occurrence and numbers of records in >50% of the range since 1950.


Bombus (St.) subterraneus (Linnaeus)subgeneric listall names
fubterranea [subterranea] (Linnaeus, 1758:579 [Apis]) examined
Nemorum (Scopoli, 1763:307 [Apis])
35 names

NOMENCLATURE: The orthography of Linnaeus (1758) and Panzer (1801) employs a long 's' (similar to 'f' or 'f'), a common practice of the period. This convention has since changed and recent authors have consistently used 's'.

Løken (1984) interpreted B. saltuum as being conspecific with B. barbutellus (see the comments on B. barbutellus). Warncke (1986) interpreted B. saltuum as having been described from a male (presumably because the antennae were described as rather long) conspecific with B. subterraneus. No type specimen is known. The description of the anterior part of the gaster of B. saltuum as ashen and the middle part as nearly bald is perhaps slightly closer to B. barbutellus, because although both species may have gastral tergum I with pale hair and terga I-III short or sparsely haired, this hair is less dense for B. barbutellus, so the tergum shines through the hair more clearly.

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic Region.

INTRODUCTIONS: This species has been introduced into New Zealand (e.g. Gurr, 1957; Macfarlane & Gurr, 1995). It has not been recorded in Britain since 1988 (see declines in British bumble bees).

NOTES on this species in Britain.


Bombus (St.) distinguendus Morawitzsubgeneric listall names
nemorum (Fabricius, 1775:382 [Apis]) not of Scopoli, 1763:307 (= B. subterraneus (Linnaeus)), not of Fabricius, 1775:380 (?= B. bohemicus Seidl)
elegans Seidl, 1837:67, nomen oblitum, type lost
distinguendus Morawitz, 1869:32, momen protectum, examined
11 names

NOMENCLATURE: The name B. elegans has been applied to several taxa by different authors. Tkalcu (1969:901-903) reasoned that Seidl had originally described B. elegans from an individual of the species that has more recently been known by the name B. distinguendus, although Seidl's original type is lost. According to Tkalcu, a specimen of B. mesomelas may then have been substituted as the type, but now this cannot be found either. Any remaining confusion could be resolved by the designation of an appropriate neotype (ICZN, 1999: Article 75). See the comments on B. mesomelas.

Although B. elegans may be the oldest available name for the present interpretation of this species, the name B. distinguendus has been in common use for the species since 1950 (e.g. Tkalcu, 1969, 1974a; Løken, 1973; Alford, 1975; Delmas, 1976; Sakagami, 1976; Pekkarinen, 1979; Reinig, 1981; Pekkarinen et al., 1981; Rasmont, 1983; Pekkarinen & Teräs, 1993; Rasmont et al., 1995). I know of no publications using the name B. elegans for this taxon since 1950 (only for B. mesomelas Gerstaecker, as a misidentification). It is suggested that, in the interests of stability (ICZN, 1999: Article 23) and to prevent confusion with B. mesomelas, prevailing usage be maintained (in prep.).

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: Palaearctic, Nearctic Regions. This species has only recently been discovered in the New World (Williams & Thomas, 2005 [pdf]; Williams et al., 2011 [pdf]; Sheffield & Williams, 2012 [pdf]).

NOTES on this species in Britain.


Bombus (St.) appositus Cressonsubgeneric listall names
appositus Cresson, 1878:183
1 name

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: W Nearctic Region.


Bombus (St.) borealis Kirbysubgeneric listall names
borealis Kirby, 1837:272, type lost
1 name

MORPHOLOGY: photos of male genitalia.

DISTRIBUTION: W Nearctic, E Nearctic Regions.


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