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Robin Owen


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Robin Owen

So many interesting problems, so little time; sums up Dr. Robin Owen's attitude to his study of the humble bumblebee. Most recently he has been working with a former PhD student, using microsatellite DNA to identify diploid males in specific bumblebee species, and confirm a trend of higher numbers in rarer species. Looking at the proportion or number of diploid males in a hive's population can give you a good idea of the amount of inbreeding going on, or a measure of population danger.

But, now Dr. Owen is left with a new research question: While higher, why wasn't the proportion of diploid males in the rare hives much, much higher? Bumblebee populations are an important matter for Dr. Owen for two reasons. As important pollinators, bees are a key link in human food production and as a theoretical population with unique characteristics. Hymenoptera species like bees, and including wasps and ants, share 75 per cent of their DNA on the female side--leading to the development of societal theories such a kin selection that reflect on humanity.
Ph.D. in Zoology, 1982. University of Toronto. Dissertation title: "Contributions to the study of the genetics and evolutionary biology of bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae)".
B.Sc. (Honours) in Science, Major Zoology, 1977. University of Toronto.
Awards and Distinctions
"Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) University Research Fellowship". Conferred by NSERC. 1984 - 1989.
"NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship, held in the Department of Genetics and Human Variation, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia, 3083". Conferred by NSERC. 1982 - 1984.
"NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship". Conferred by NSERC. 1980 - 1982.
"NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship University of Toronto Open Fellowship". Conferred by NSERC. 1979 - 1980.
Recent Publications
Owen, R. (2014). The effects of aposematic coloration on predation risk in bumblebees; a re-analysis of Stelzer et al. (2010). Journal of Zoology, 292, 125-132 (In Print).
Owen, R. (2014). R.A. Fisher and social insects: The Fisher-Darwin model of the evolution of eusociality. Biological Theory, 9, 347-356 (In Print).
Whidden, T., & Owen, R. (2011). Diploid males in natural populations of three North American bumble bee species (Bombus) detected using microsatellite DNA markers. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 104, 83-87 (In Print).
Owen, R.E., Whidden, T.L., & Plowright, R.C. (2010). Genetic and morphometric evidence for the conspecific status of the bumble bees Bombus melanopygus and B. edwardsii (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Journal of Insect Science,, 109 (In Print).
Zayed, A., Packer, L., Ruz, J.C., & Owen, R.E. (2005). Increased genetic differentiation in a specialist versus a generalist bee: implications for conservation. Conservation Genetics, 10.1007/s10592-005-9094-5.
Packer, L., Zayed, A., Grixti, J.C., Ruz, L., Owen, R.E., Vivaldo, F., & Toro, H. (2004). The conservation genetics of potentially endangered mutualisms I: Reduced levels of genetic variation in specialist versus generalist bees. Conservation Biology, 19, 195-202.
Otterstatter, M.C., Whidden, T.L., & Owen, R.E. (2002). Contrasting frequencies of parasitism and host mortality among phorid and conopid parasitoids of bumble bees. Ecological Entomology, 27, 229-237.
Owen, R.E. (2001). Rearing bumble bees. Hivelights, 14(3), 22-23.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (2001). Population genetic aspects of pollinator decline. Conservation Ecology, 5(1), 4.
McCorquodale, D.B., & Owen, R.E. (1997). Allozyme variation, relatedness among progeny in a nest, and sex ratio in the leafcutter bee Megachile rotundata (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Canadian Entomologist, 129, 211-219.
Owen, R.E. (1996). Colony-level selection in the social insects: Single locus additive and nonadditive models. Theoretical Population Biology, 29, 198-234.
Owen, R.E. (1995). Canada and the environment. In. (T. MacAlister, Ed.), Canadian Perspectives on Environmental Science (pp.1-18). Addison-Wesley, Don Mills, Ontario.
Owen, R.E., & Harder, L.D. (1995). Heritable allometric variation in bumble bees: opportunities for colony-level selection of foraging ability. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 8, 725-738.
Owen, R.E., Richards, K.W., & Wilkes, A. (1995). Chromosome numbers and karyotypic variation in bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae; Bombini). Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 68, 290-302.
Owen, R.E., & McCorquodale, D.B. (1994). Quantitive variation and heritability of postdiapause development time and body size in the Alfalfa leafcutting bee (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 87, 922-927.
McCorquodale, D.B., & Owen, R.E. (1994). Laying sequence, diploid males and nest usurpation in the leafcutter bee, Megachile rotundata (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Journal of Insect Behavior, 7, 731-738.
Owen, R.E., & Packer, L. (1994). Estimation of the proportion of diploid males in populations of Hymenoptera. Heredity, 72, 219-227.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (1994). Relatedness and sex ratio in a primitively eusocial halictine bee. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 34, 1-10.
Owen, R. (1993). The genetics of parasitic Hymenoptera. In. (S. Narang, A.C. Bartlett, & R.M. Faust, Eds.), Applications of Genetics to Arthropods of Biological Control Significance (pp.69-89). Phoenix, Arizona: CRC Press.
Owen, R.E., Mydynski, L.E., Packer, L., & McCorquodale, D.B. (1992). Allozyme variation in bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Biochemical Genetics, 30, 443-453.
Scholl, A., Thorp, R.W., Owen, R.E., & Obrecht, E. (1992). Specific distinctiveness of Bombus nevadensis Cresson and B.auricomus (Robertson)(Hymenoptera: Apidae) - enzyme electrophoretic data. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, 65, 134-140.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (1992). Variable enzyme systems in the Hymenoptera. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology, 20, 1-7.
Packer, L., Plateaux-Quenu, C., & Owen, R.E. (1992). Electrophoretic evidence that Lasioglossum (Evylaeus) mediterraneum (Bluthgen) is a species distinct from L. (E.) laticeps (Schenck)(Hymenoptera, Halictidae), with notes on its phylogenetic position. Canadian Entomologist, 124, 371-380.
Fairey, D.T., Lefkovitch, L.P., & Owen, R.E. (1992). Resource partitioning: Bumblebee (Bombus) species and corolla lengths in legume seed fields in the Peace River region. Bee Science, 2, 170-174.
Owen, R.E., & McCorquodale, D.B. (1990). Evolution of sociality in a varying environment: Nest sharing in primitively social wasps. In Veeresh, G.K., Mallik, B. and Viraktamath, C.A. (eds.) Social Insects and the Environment (Proceedings 11th International Congress IUSSI) (Bangalore). Oxford and IBH Publishing, New Delhi.
Scholl, A., Owen, R.E., Thorp, R.W., & Obrecht, E. (1990). Specific distinctiveness of Bombus nevadensis Cresson and B. auricomus Robertson (Hymenoptera: Apidae) - enzyme electrophoretic data. In Veeresh, G.K., Mallik, B. and Viraktamath, C.A. (eds.) Social Insects and the Environment (Proceedings 11th International Congress IUSSI) (Bangalore). Oxford and IBH Publishing, New Delhi.
Scholl, A., Obrecht, E., & Owen, R.E. (1990). The genetic relationship between Bombus moderatus Cresson and the Bombus lucorum Auct. species complex (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 68, 2264-2268.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (1990). Allozyme variation, linkage disequilibrium and diploid male production in a primitively social bee Augochlorella striata (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Heredity, 65, 241-248.
Owen, R. (1989). The genetics of colony-level selection. In. (M. Breed, & R.E. Paeg, Eds.), The Genetics of Social Evolution (pp.31-59). Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
Young, C.G., & Owen, R.E. (1989). Foraging activity of bumble bee (Bombus spp.) workers on Hedysarum sulphurescens in a subalpine meadow. Canadian Field Naturalist, 103, 341-347.
Owen, R.E. (1989). Differential size variation of male and female bumble bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Bombus). Journal of Heredity, 80, 39-43.
Owen, R.E., & Owen, A.R.G. (1989). Effective population size in social Hymenoptera with worker-produced males. Heredity, 63, 59-65.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (1989). Allozyme variation in Halictus rubicundus (Christ), a primitively social halictine bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Canadian Entomologist, 121, 1049-1058.
Packer, L., & Owen, R.E. (1989). Notes on the biology of Lasioglossum (Evylaeus) cooleyi (Crawford) a eusocial halictine bee (Hymenoptera: Halictidae). Canadian Entomologist, 121, 431-438.
Owen, R.E. (1988). Selection at two sex-linked loci. Heredity, 60, 415-425.
Owen, R.E. (1988). Body size variation and optimal body size of bumble bee queens (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Canadian Entomologist, 120, 19-27.
Owen, R.E., & Plowright, R.C. (1988). Inheritance of metasomal pile colour variation in the bumble bee Bombus rufocinctus Cresson (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 66, 1172-1178.
Owen, R.E. (1987). Effects of eusociality on population genetics. In Eder, J. and Rembold, M. (eds.) Chemistry and Biology of Social Insects. Verlag J. Peperny, Munich.
Owen, R. (1986). Gene frequency clines at X-linked or haplodiploid loci. Heredity, 57, 209-219.
Owen, R.E. (1986). Maximum likelihood estimates of gene frequencies in the social Hymenoptera. Journal of Heredity, 77, 208-209.
Owen, R. (1985). Difficulties with the interpretation of patterns of genetic variation in the eusocial Hymenoptera. Evolution, 39, 201-205.
Owen, R.E. (1985). The opportunity for polymorphism and genic variation in social Hymenoptera with worker-produced males. Heredity, 54, 25-36.
Owen, R.E. (1985). Utilization and tolerance of ethanol, acetic acid and acetaldehyde vapour by Asobara persimilis, a parasitoid of Drosophila. Entomologia experimentalis et applicata, 39, 143-147.
Owen, R.E., & Owen, A.R.G. (1984). Mathematical paradigms for mimicry: Recurrent sampling. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 109(214), 214-247.
Owen, R.E. (1983). Sex ratio adjustment in Asobara persimilis (Hymenoptera: braconidae), a parasitoid of Drosophila. Oecologia (Berlin), 59, 402-404.
Owen, R.E. (1983). Chromosome numbers of 15 North American bumble bee species (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Bombini). Canadian Journal of Genetics and Cytology, 25, 26-29.
Owen, R.E., & Plowright, R.C. (1982). Worker-queen conflict and male parentage in bumble bees. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 11, 91-99.
Owen, R.E. (1980). Population genetics of social Hymenoptera with worker produced males. Heredity, 45, 31-46.
Owen, R.E., & Plowright, R.C. (1980). Abdominal pile color dimorphism in the bumble bee Bombus melanopygus. Journal of Heredity, 71, 241-247.
Owen, R.E., Rodd, F.H., & Plowright, R.C. (1980). Sex ratios in bumble bee colonies: Complications due to orphaning?. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 7, 287-291.
Plowright, R.C., & Owen, R.E. (1980). The evolutionary significance of bumble bee color patterns: a mimetic interpretation. Evolution, 34, 622-637.
Rodd, F.H., Plowright, R.C., & Owen, R.E. (1980). Mortality rates of adult bumble bee workers (Hymenoptera: Apidae). Canadian Journal of Zoology, 58(1718), 1718-1721.
Owen, R., & Whidden, T. (2013) Monandry and polyandry in three species of North American bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombus) determined using microsatellite DNA markers. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 91, 523-528 (In Print).
Owen, R., & Whidden, T. (2013) Discrimination of the bumble bee species Bombus occidentalis Greene and B. terricola Kirby by morphometric, colour and RAPD variation. Zootaxa, 3608, 328-344 (In Print).
Owen, R., Otterstatter, M., Cartar, R., Farmer, A., Colla, S., & O'Toole, N. (2012) Significant expansion of the distribution of the bumble bee Bombus moderatus (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in Alberta over 20 years. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 90, 133-138 (In Print).
Educational Institution Employment
Professor, Department of Biology, Mount Royal University, 2012, January 1 - Present.
Coordinator, Department of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Sciences, Mount Royal University, 2003, August 1 - 2007, August 1.
Advisor, Environmental Technology, Mount Royal College, 1997, August - 2001, June.
Adjunct Associate professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 1992, July - 2003, July.
2011, March 9 MRU: Internal Research Grant, "Fluctuating asymmetry as an indicator of population decline in bees". CAD4,000. Type: Grant-Competitive (Role: Principal Investigator).
2001 - 2002 Petro Canada: Petro-Canada Innovator Award. $15,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
2001 - 2002 NSERC: Discovery Grants. $12,000. Type: Grant-Competitive (Role: Principal Investigator).
1998 - 1999 Mount Royal University, "MRC Scholarly Pursuits". $3,089 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1997 - 2001 NSERC, "NSERC Research Grant". $12,330 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1997 Mount Royal University, "MRC Science & Technology Faculty Development Grant". $1,199 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1991 - 1992 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $15,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1990 - 1991 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $30,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1989 - 1990 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $30,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1988 - 1989 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant U of C Pilot Study Grant". $25,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1987 - 1988 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $25,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1986 - 1987 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $15,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1985 - 1986 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $15,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
1984 - 1985 NSERC, "NSERC Operating Grant". $15,000 (Role: Principal Investigator).
Research Presentations
. "Darwin, ants and the evolution of altruism", Department of Chemical & Biological Sciences Colloquium, Mount Royal University.
. "Modeling diploid male frequencies in subdivided populations of Hymenoptera using heuristic arguments and Monte Carlo methods", Mathematical and Computational Modeling Mini-Symposium, MRU. Invited Speaker.
Other Media
. Electronic publishing: "The changing identity and distribution of a bumble bee species known from Alberta for one hundred years". The Cenntennial Reader, Mount Royal University.
Other Professional Activity
(1989 - 1990). Supervisory Experience with Postdoctoral Fellows.
(1987 - 1988). Supervisory Expereince with Postdoctoral Fellows.