November 28, 2022

Brighton Journal

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Discover strange species of bees using a dog-like snout

Leioproctus zephyrus

A specimen of a new bee species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

A new species of domestic bee with a dog-like ‘snout’ has been discovered in the forests of Perth in Western Australia. It was identified by research led by Curtin University that sheds new light on our most important pollinators.

Dr. Kate Prendergast, of the Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences, named the new species after her pet dog Zephyr after noticing that a prominent part of the insect’s face looked similar to a dog’s snout. The name also acknowledges the role her dog played in providing emotional support during her Ph.D. Dr. Prendergast is the author of a paper about the discovery published October 31 in Hymenoptera Research Journal.

According to Dr. Prendergast, the rare and fascinating discovery would add to existing knowledge about our evolving biodiversity. It will also ensure that the bees are named Leopructus zephyrthrough conservation efforts.

“When I first examined the specimens I collected during my PhD surveys to discover the biodiversity of native bees in urban areas in the biodiversity hotspot of southwest Western Australia, I was immediately fascinated by the bee’s very unusual face,” said Dr. Prendergast.

Leioproctus zephyrus . specimen

A specimen of a new bee species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

“When I went to identify it, I found that it did not match the described species, and I was sure that if it was a known species, it would be easy to identify due to how strange it looks.

“You can only confirm a particular species by just looking at it under a microscope and going through a long process of trying to match its characteristics to other specific species, then moving on to the museum’s collections.

“When looking at the entomology collection at the Washington Museum, I discovered that there are quite a few specimens Leopructus zepyrus It was first collected in 1979, but has never been scientifically described.”

Dr. Prendergast said she is excited to play a role in making the species known and its official name.

“Insects in general are very diverse and important, yet we don’t have scientific descriptions or names for many of them,” Dr. Prendergast said.

“The Leopructus zephyr It has a very restricted distribution, occurring only in seven locations across southwest Washington so far, and has not been collected from its original location. They were completely absent from the residential gardens and were only present in five of the remnants of the urban bush that I surveyed, feeding on two types of plants. Jacksonia.

“Not only is this picky species, but it also has a snout-like clip. Hence, I named them after my dog ​​Zephyr. They were very important to my mental health and well-being during the difficult period of my Ph.D. and beyond.”

Dr. Prendergast was able to confirm that the new species was more closely related to other unidentified species leoproctothrough[{” attribute=””>DNA barcoding.

Reference: “Leioproctus zephyr Prendergast (Hymenoptera, Colletidae, Leioproctus), an oligoletic new bee species with a distinctive clypeus” by Kit S. Prendergast, 31 October 2022, Journal of Hymenoptera Research.
DOI: 10.3897/jhr.93.85685

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