HomeScience and Nature Newly-Described Species of Australian Native Bee Has Dog-Like ‘Snout’

Newly-Described Species of Australian Native Bee Has Dog-Like ‘Snout’

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Curtin University researcher Kit Prendergast has named the new bee species Leioproctus zephyr, after her pet dog Zephyr after noticing a protruding part of the bee’s face looked similar to a dog’s snout.

Leioproctus zephyr. Image credit: Kit Prendergast.

The newly-described bee species belongs to Leioproctus, a species-rich genus in the plaster bee family Colletidae.

The genus consists of more than 300 bee species grouped into 35 subgenera.

They are primarily found in the Australian region and primarily temperate areas of South America.

“I’m excited to play a role in making Leioproctus zephyr known and officially naming it,” Dr. Prendergast said.

“Insects in general are so diverse and so important, yet we don’t have scientific descriptions or names for so many of them.”

“Leioproctus zephyr has a highly restricted distribution, only occurring in seven locations across the southwest Western Australia to date, and have not been collected from their original location.”

“They were entirely absent from residential gardens and only present at five urban bushland remnants that I surveyed, where they foraged on two plant species of Jacksonia.”

“Not only is this species fussy, they also have a clypeus that looks like a snout. Hence, I named them after my dog Zephyr.”

The rare and remarkable finding would add to existing knowledge about Australia’s evolving biodiversity and ensure Leioproctus zephyr were protected by conservation efforts.

“When I first examined the specimens that I collected during my Ph.D. surveys discovering the biodiversity of native bees in urbanised regions of the southwest Western Australia biodiversity hotspot, I was instantly intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” Dr. Prendergast said.

“When I went to identify it, I found it matched no described species, and I was sure that if it was a known species, it would be quite easy to identify given how unusual it was in appearance.”

“You can only confirm a particular species once you look at them under a microscope and go through the long process of trying to match their characteristics against other identified species, then going through museum collections.”

“When perusing the WA Museum’s Entomology collection, I discovered that a few specimens of Leioproctus zephyrus had first been collected in 1979, but it had never been scientifically described.”

“Through DNA barcoding, I was able to confirm that the new species was most closely related to other species of unidentified Leioproctus.”

A paper on the discovery will be published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

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Kit Prendergast. 2022. Leioproctus zephyr Prendergast (Hymenoptera, Colletidae, Leioproctus), an oligoletic new bee species with a remarkable clypeu. Journal of Hymenoptera Research, in press;

Source : Breaking Science News

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