Four new bee species found in Australia

Sydney, Sep 17 (IANS) Researchers have discovered four new bee species in the genus Euhesma in Australia.

These bees have evolved narrow faces and very long mouth parts to collect the nectar through a narrow constriction at the base of the flowers, said the study.

The fourth species belongs to a different group within this large genus and has a normally shaped head, the researchers noted.

The discovery was made during the Bush Blitz surveys, Australia’s largest nature discovery project.

Bees are important pollinators of crops and native plants, but habitat loss and pesticides is causing a serious decline in their populations in many countries including in Europe and the US.

The conservation status of native Australian bees is largely unknown because solid baseline data are unavailable and about one third of the species are as yet unknown to science.

Trying to make Australian native bees more accessible to the scientific community, the researchers have now introduced a new Barcoding of Life project, ‘AUSBS’, which will be built to contain the barcode sequences of the identified Australian native bees.

The researchers intend to build on the existing DNA database to cover as many as possible of the Australian species.

“It is hoped that this will stimulate native bee research,” said one of the researchers Katja Hogendoorn from University of Adelaide in Australia.

“With about 750 Australian bee species still undescribed and many groups in need of revision there is an enormous job to do,” she noted.

The new species were described in the open access journal ZooKeys.

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