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UC Riverside entomologist to oversee centralized database of bee specimens
Date:6/30/2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Even though there are more than 19,000 bee species worldwide more than 1,000 bee species are in California alone no single central repository for information about them exists.

That difficulty and inconvenience will be addressed, however, when Douglas Yanega, the senior museum scientist in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, and colleagues begin digitizing and consolidating nearly one million specimen records from ten bee collections across the United States an endeavor made possible by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation, of which UC Riverside will receive nearly $148,000 each year.

"Bees are the most important pollinators of the approximately one-third of crops that require animal pollination," said Yanega, co-principal investigator of the grant. "Recent declines in honey bee populations highlight the need to understand better the roles of native bees in agricultural and natural systems. This project will help predict risks to bees and their pollination services from climate change, habitat loss, and other factors."

Yanega and his colleagues, many of whom are trained taxonomists, will make or verify species identifications, capture full label data, georeference and error-check localities, and upload this information to publicly accessible databases. The primary public interface for the data from all of the collaborating collections will be the Discover Life Website http://www.discoverlife.org/.

"The collective knowledge represented by museum specimens is one of the greatest biological resources in existence, but without databases, this knowledge is accessible only in tiny pieces, to only a handful of specialists," Yanega said. "Insect collections such as UCR's contain specimen
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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