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You are here: News & Events On the Research Front On The Research Front Integrative Taxonomy Helps Discover New Species of Sweat Bees From North America

Integrative Taxonomy Helps Discover New Species of Sweat Bees From North America

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Chennai, November 25, 2011: Integrative taxonomic approach utilizing the DNA barcode region of cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 in conjunction with traditional morphological approaches is increasingly used to identify insect species. Jason Gibbs of the York University, Toronto, Canada used this approach to differentiate species within Lasioglossum (Dialictus) tegulare group1. He could identify five distinct species in this group, earlier recognized as a single species. The sweat bee genus Lasioglossum is the largest of all bee genera, containing over 1700 species in numerous subgenera worldwide. Over 10 species are known to occur in India. Of the several subgenera, Dialictus is the largest with over 600 known species.Female Diallictus bee on Lepidium draba flower

Dr. Gibbs says of Dialictus (see this report on his research interests): "This group of bees is speciose and taxonomically challenging. There are over 600 described species worldwide and nearly half of these are in North America. ...

"Dialictus also display an incredibly diverse array of social behaviours. Solitary, communal, semisocial, eusocial and socially parasitic species are known. Phylogenetic data suggests that reversals from eusocial to solitary behaviour have occurred in this group. ...

"Dialictus are also the most commonly collected bees in North America. In bee biodiversity studies, Dialictus are often the most abundant species. In some cases, over 50% of specimens collected are Dialictus."

As a student at the York University, Gibbs' doctoral research involved taxonomic study of the subgenus Dialictus in Canada. The taxonomic treatment included 84 species of which Gibbs discovered 19 as new species (see York U News). The results of the research were published2 in the journal Zootaxa as a separate issue.

Continuing the taxonomic revision of this group of sweat bees as a post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell University, Ithaca, Dr. Gibbs provided taxonomic treatment of all 97 species occurring in the eastern North America in a monograph3 published in the journal Zootaxa. Eleven of these are new species. Dr. Gibbs used the extensive bee collections at Cornell University, York University, Toronto, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others, to confirm the new species (see article dated November 17, 2011 in Newswise and the news report of the American Museum of Natural History).

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References cited:

  1. Gibbs, J. 2009. Integrative taxonomy identifies new (and old) species in the Lasioglossum (Dialictus) tegulare (Robertson) species group (Hymenoptera, Halictidae). Zootaxa 2032: 1-38.
  2. Gibbs, J. 2010. Revision of the metallic species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus) in Canada (Hymenoptera, Halictidae, Halictini) - Monograph. Zootaxa 2591: 1 - 382.
  3. Gibbs, J. 2011. Revision of the metallic Lasioglossum (Dialictus) of eastern North America (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Halictini). Monograph. Zootaxa 3073: 1-216.