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York U researcher finds new bee in downtown Toronto
Date:8/31/2010

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.


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Contact: Janice Walls
wallsj@yorku.ca
416-736-2100 x22101
York University
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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