Navigation Links
Scientists rediscover rarest US bumblebee
Date:12/5/2011

RIVERSIDE, Calif. A team of scientists from the University of California, Riverside recently rediscovered the rarest species of bumblebee in the United States, last seen in 1956, living in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico.

Known as "Cockerell's Bumblebee," the bee was originally described in 1913 from six specimens collected along the Rio Ruidoso, with another 16 specimens collected near the town of Cloudcroft, and one more from Ruidoso, the most recent being in 1956. No other specimens had been recorded until three more were collected on weeds along a highway north of Cloudcroft on Aug. 31, 2011.

"Most bumblebees in the U.S. are known from dozens to thousands of specimens, but not this species," said Douglas Yanega, senior museum scientist at UC Riverside. "The area it occurs in is infrequently visited by entomologists, and the species has long been ignored because it was thought that it was not actually a genuine species, but only a regional color variant of another well-known species."

Yanega pointed out that there are nearly 50 species of native U.S. bumblebees, including a few on the verge of extinction, such as the species known as "Franklin's Bumblebee," which has been seen only once since 2003. That species, as rare as it is, is known from a distribution covering some 13,000 square miles, whereas Cockerell's Bumblebee is known from an area of less than 300 square miles, giving it the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world.

"There is much concern lately about declines in our native bumblebee species, and as we now have tools at our disposal to assess their genetic makeup, these new specimens give fairly conclusive evidence that Cockerell's Bumblebee is a genuine species," he said. "With appropriate comparative research, we hope to be able to determine which other species is its closest living relative. Given that this bee occurs in an area that's largely composed of National Forest and Apache tribal land, it's unlikely to be under serious threat of habitat loss at the moment. Since its biology is completely unknown, however, it nevertheless may require some more formal assessment in the future."

Yanega went on to point out that it is not especially surprising for an insect species to be rediscovered after decades, when people might otherwise imagine that it may have gone extinct.

"When an insect species is very rare, or highly localized, it can fairly easily escape detection for very long periods of time," he said. "There are many precedents some of them very recently in the news, in fact of insects that have been unseen for anywhere from 70 to more than 100 years, suddenly turning up again when someone either got lucky enough, or persistent enough, to cross paths with them again. It is much harder to give conclusive evidence that an insect species has gone extinct than for something like a bird or mammal or plant."

UCR entomologists rediscover many such "lost" insect species and discover entirely new species on a regular basis, at the rate of several dozen species every year, primarily in groups such as bees, wasps, beetles, and plant bugs. According to recent estimates, approximately 8 million species are in existence, the vast majority being insects of which only about 1 million have been described.

"It should come as no surprise that we discover so many new species of insects so easily," Yanega said. "But the pace of species discovery and description is incredibly slow because there are so few insect taxonomists relative to the number of undescribed insects. Moreover, the work is painstaking, time-consuming, and not very glamorous, at least in the public's perception, when compared to studying things like dinosaurs."

As for plans regarding additional work with Cockerell's Bumblebee, Yanega said that the recent expedition, carried out together with UCR scientists Keve Ribardo and Greg Ballmer, was funded in part by the Friends of the Entomology Research Museum, a non-profit organization supporting UCR's Entomology Research Museum, but that nothing further was yet planned. The DNA sequencing was also carried out at UCR, as part of a larger study on wasp and bee relationships.

"The first step is to come to a firm conclusion regarding the status of this bee as a species," he said. "The second step is spreading the word to the scientific community that this bee deserves some attention, as it has been completely overlooked. Here at UCR we may or may not be involved beyond that point, in gathering data on the distribution and biology of this species, but at the very least our discovery can get the proverbial ball rolling."


'/>"/>
Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. EMBO awards Installation Grants to 7 European scientists
2. Singapore and China scientists perform first Asian genome-wide association study on spine disease
3. AGU meeting: Stanford scientists subject rocks to hellish conditions to combat global warming
4. Some atheist scientists with children embrace religious traditions, according to new Rice research
5. Scientists use laser imaging to assess safety of zinc oxide nanoparticles in sunscreen
6. Controlled disorder -- scientists find way to form random molecular patterns
7. Taking the pulse of an iceberg -- scientists simulate laser imaging for NASA missions
8. Addex scientists discover GLP-1 induced interaction between GLP-1 and GIP receptors
9. Hopkins scientists turn on fountain of youth in yeast
10. Scripps Research scientists uncover new role for gene in maintaining steady weight
11. Caltech scientists point to link between missing synapse protein and abnormal behaviors
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Scientists rediscover rarest US bumblebee
(Date:4/19/2017)... , April 19, 2017 ... its vendor landscape is marked by the presence of ... is however held by five major players - 3M ... these companies accounted for nearly 61% of the global ... leading companies in the global military biometrics market boast ...
(Date:4/11/2017)... 11, 2017 Crossmatch®, a globally-recognized leader ... today announced that it has been awarded a ... Activity (IARPA) to develop next-generation Presentation Attack Detection ... "Innovation has been a driving force within Crossmatch ... allow us to innovate and develop new technologies ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 5, 2017  The Allen Institute for ... Cell Explorer: a one-of-a-kind portal and dynamic digital window ... imaging data, the first application of deep learning to ... stem cell lines and a growing suite of powerful ... for these and future publicly available resources created and ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:7/20/2017)... ... July 20, 2017 , ... Corista, a ... and artificial intelligence Tuesday, July 25, during the Association of Pathology Chairs’ Jubilee ... Medicine. , Baras, Associate Director of Pathology Informatics, will present “The Digital ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... ... ... Sourcing custom glass or quartz parts can be a daunting task. Finding ... your job can take many hours of emails, phone calls and on-line research. Wilmad-LabGlass’ ... the company’s capabilities and core custom categories, and enables you to start the quoting ...
(Date:7/18/2017)... Fairfield, NJ (PRWEB) , ... July 18, 2017 ... ... in corporate finance technology, DataForm Software ( https://dataformsoftware.com ) announces the migration of ... – to Microsoft Azure. Planet is a team-centric, enterprise work management system that ...
(Date:7/17/2017)... ... July 17, 2017 , ... Neurodevelopmental ... wide range of overlapping clinical features. The advancement of targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) ... NDD research and testing. , However, designing a custom panel for disease ...
Breaking Biology Technology: