James Postlethwaite

M.Sc. candidate, York University
Honours B.Sc. in Biology, Cape Breton University
York University
Email: james-postlethwaite@hotmail.com

Research Interests

During my undergrad I worked on bumble bees from Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. My honours thesis was on the phenology and changes in relative abundance of the bumble bees of Cape Breton Island over a 22 year period.

Currently I am working on the biogeography of bees in northern Chile with a focus on the Atacama Desert. The Atacama Desert provides a unique area to study the biogeography of bees. Weather patterns in northern Chile are well studied. The hyperarid core of the Atacama Desert averages less than 1mm of rain annually. Situated in the southern Atacama Desert is a precipitation transition zone. The area north of this zone sees most of its precipitation in the summer months (December, January, and February) and the area south of this zone sees most of its precipitation in the winter months (May, June, and July). Given that dispersal to and from the Atacama Desert is limited due to the Andes Mountains in the east and the Pacific Ocean in the west, there is an opportunity to study the dispersal across the Atacama Desert with little outside influence.

In order to determine if this rainfall transition acts as a biogeographic barrier I will collect bees from both the winter and summer rainfall zones and combine these data points with existing collection records. After I determine the phylogenetic relationships with select genera I will utilize VIP (Vicariance Inference Program) to determine if there are disjunct sister species located on either side of the before mentioned rainfall transition.


  • To be updated...

Favorite Recipe

Meat and Potatoes

[Meat and potatoes!]


  • Meat (any meat will do)
  • Potatoes
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Gravy


It does not get any easier than this. Cook your preferred meat any way you like it. Boil the potatoes and mash them with milk and butter. Cover both the meat and potatoes with gravy then serve.

Funniest Research Story

As part of my undergrad research I collected bumble bees all over Cape Breton Island. One sunny day I accidently walked onto someone's private property. I was greeted by the owner with a rifle, which he claimed was for hunting deer (it wasn’t hunting season). I learned two very important things that day. 1) I don’t like guns being pointed at me. 2) You should always receive the property owner’s permission before sampling on their land.

[Laurence in a good mood]
Dr. Laurence Packer
Ph.D. (Toronto)
Professor of Biology
416-736-2100 ext. 22663
[Packer Collection @ York University]
[Biology Department @ York University]
Lumbers Building 345
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3J1P3, Canada