Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New bee species discovered in downtown Toronto

Date:
September 5, 2010
Source:
York University
Summary:
A doctoral student who discovered a new species of bee in Toronto has completed a study of 84 species of sweat bees in Canada. Nineteen of these species are new to science -- never before identified -- including the new Toronto bee, which is actually quite common in eastern Canada and the US. The new research will help scientists track bee diversity, and understand pollination biology and insect social behavior.

The newly discovered Toronto bee, Lasioglossum ephialtum.
Credit: Jason Gibbs

A York University doctoral student who discovered a new species of bee on his way to the lab one morning has completed a study that examines 84 species of sweat bees in Canada. Nineteen of these species -- including the one Jason Gibbs found in downtown Toronto − are new to science because they have never been identified or described before.

Gibbs' expansive study will help scientists track bee diversity, understand pollination biology and study the evolution of social behaviour in insects. It is also much anticipated by bee taxonomists who, like Gibbs, painstakingly examine the anatomy (morphology) of bees to distinguish one type of bee from another.

Bees are responsible for pollinating many wildflowers and a large proportion of agricultural crops. As much as one of every three bites of food that humans eat, including some meat products, depends on the pollination services of bees. Sweat bees are common visitors to a wide range of plants, including fruit and vegetable flowers in Toronto gardens. Sweat bees − named for their attraction to perspiration − can be smaller than 4 mm in length, often have metallic markings, and make up one-third to one-half of bees collected in biodiversity surveys in North America. Complete species descriptions of 84 metallic sweat bees in Canada are included in Gibbs' study, "Revision of the metallic species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus) in Canada." It was published August 31 by the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa as a single issue.

Despite their numbers and their importance as pollinators, sweat bees remain among the most challenging bees to identify to species, perhaps because they evolved so rapidly when they first appeared about 20 million years ago. Gibbs' research significantly improves upon all other available tools for the identification of these bees.

These bees are morphologically monotonous. They are a nightmare to identify to species because their physical characteristics -- their morphologies -- are so similar among species. No one has been able to identify these bees until now even though they make up so many of the bees we collect," says Gibbs. "It's important to identify these species, because if we don't know what bees we have, we can't know what bees we're losing."

Gibbs examined tens of thousands of individual bees over about four years, from his own and others' collections as well as historical collections housed in museums. To identify bees to species, he first sorted them using morphological study, then tested his assessments using DNA sequences generated at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding at the University of Guelph, which assigns "barcodes" to species based on their DNA. Finally, he carefully re-examined the bees' physical characteristics to draw even finer distinctions between the bees and identify them to species.

Among the 19 new species of sweat bee identified by Gibbs is one that he collected on his commute from downtown Toronto to York University. When he arrived at his York lab and examined it, he knew he had found a new species, never before identified by science but, as it turns out, quite common in Toronto and throughout eastern Canada and the USA. He also identified and described 18 other species from Canada that are new to science including a cuckoo bee: like a cuckoo bird, it doesn't build a nest or collect food but it has big mandibles for fighting. This cuckoo sweat bee is believed to invade the nest of another sweat bee species to lay its eggs on the pollen and nectar collected by its host.

Gibbs received the 2010 Dissertation Prize from York University for the manuscript that led to this published study. A postdoctoral researcher in York Professor Laurence Packer's bee lab, he will continue his research this fall at Cornell University. He is working on similar bee studies for the Eastern United States and Mexico.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by York University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jason Gibbs. Revision of the metallic species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus) in Canada. Zootaxa, 31 Aug. 2010

Cite This Page:

York University. "New bee species discovered in downtown Toronto." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831121439.htm>.
York University. (2010, September 5). New bee species discovered in downtown Toronto. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831121439.htm
York University. "New bee species discovered in downtown Toronto." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831121439.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) With plenty of honking, flapping, and fluttering, more than three dozen Caribbean flamingos at Zoo Miami were rounded up today as the iconic exhibit was closed for renovations. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins