Scientists studying native U.S. bees have long known that among the Sonoran deserts Y Chihuahua, on the border with Mexico, there was a great diversity of bees. But until now, the exact number of species remained unknown.
According to scientists, this is an unparalleled bee biodiversity hotspot in a desert border area that cuts across vast stretches of virgin land in North America.
Over the past few years, a team of scientists from the United States, led by the University of Rochester, conducted continuous collected of specimens in that area, thanks to the help of Mexican, Guatemalan and American students. In total, they managed to identify 70,000 individuals.
Thanks to this laborious work, which is now published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research, the researchers were able to obtain a complete picture of the diversity of bees and thus reveal that in a protected area of 16 km2 of that North American desert, more than 470 species, which represents 14% of the known bee fauna of the United States.
According Robert minckley, from the American university, and William Radke, from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a biodiversity hotspot of unparalleled bees in a desert border area that cuts across vast stretches of virgin land in North America.
Solitary bees adapted to droughts
According to the work, most of these species of bees are lonely, without a queen or workers, who visit the flowers throughout their life, which usually lasts two to four weeks. They specialize in pollen and nectar from one or a few plants.
These desert species experience periodic droughts, which are survived by immature stages by going into torpor for years.
In addition, these desert species experience periodic droughts, which are survived by immature stages by going into torpor for years, like the seeds of desert plants that pollinate.
The authors emphasize that, in reality, estimating and comparing the diversity of bees is very difficult, due to the differences in the collection techniques and the size of the studied area. Thanks to this research, the scientists confirmed that the observed diversity of bees was close to the true diversity of bees in this region, and they checked whether there were still many more species to be discovered.
However, before the slope of bees due to human activity, the researchers suggest that baseline information on indigenous bees in these types of areas is needed to assess how much and how humans harm bee faunas.
Robert Minckley et al. “Extreme species density of bees (Apiformes, Hymenoptera) in the warm deserts of North America” Journal of Hymenoptera Research
Rights: Creative Commons.