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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #383115

Research Project: Sustainable Crop Production and Wildland Preservation through the Management, Systematics, and Conservation of a Diversity of Bees

Location: Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research

Title: Phylogeny, phenology, and foraging breadth of ashmeadiella (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

item MURRAY, ELIZABETH - Washington State University
item EVANHOE, LAURIE - Cornell University - New York
item BOSSERT, SILAS - Cornell University - New York
item GEBER, MONICA - Cornell University - New York
item Griswold, Terry
item MCCOSHUM, SHAUN - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: Insect Systematics and Diversity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/30/2021
Publication Date: 5/20/2021
Citation: Murray, E., Evanhoe, L., Bossert, S., Geber, M.A., Griswold, T.L., McCoshum, S.M. 2021. Phylogeny, phenology, and foraging breadth of ashmeadiella (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Insect Systematics and Diversity. 5(3).

Interpretive Summary: A genus of mason bees called in Latin Ashmeadiella is found only in North America. It is a little-known group of bees apparently unknown by native people groups or at least there is no word for it in any of their languages. There are 61 species known for this genus with most species found in the Southwest in desert and Mediterranean climates. Ashmeadiella was one of the first groups to be analyzed for family relationships using statistical methods back in the 50s. Methods of analysis have greatly expanded over the 70 years since. Here we compare these current genetic methods with the historic study that used physical characters of the adult bees and find what appeared to be distinct species groups based on structures are sometimes not genetically distinct. We also gathered three behavioral traits that can help with conserving these pollinators: what time of year the adults are active, what kinds of flowers do they prefer to collect pollen and nectar, and what parts of the country they live in. The results show that most species are active for periods from a few months to most of the year. Most species use many different flowers to collect the food for their young. And the Mojave Desert is the richest region for these bees with over half of the 61 species found there.

Technical Abstract: Ashmeadiella (Megachilidae: Osmiini) is a bee genus endemic to North America, with greatest richness in arid and Mediterranean regions of the southwestern United States. The last time the species relationships of Ashmeadiella were analyzed was in the 1950s, when Robert Sokal and Charles Michener developed a novel statistical clustering method for classification called numerical taxonomy. We built a molecular phylogeny to revisit the species groups they established that included all five subgenera in our sampling. We also assembled life history data to lay the foundation for future conservation programs for these bees. We chose three aspects of bee biology that can inform conservation strategies: documenting periods of the year adult bees are flying, assembling data for the flowers each species visits, and compiling the localities and ecoregions where they have been collected. Our results suggest that Ashmeadiella subgenera need to be revised and that some species may need to be synonymized. Museum collection records reveal that: adult flight periods range from a few months to most of the year; most species are polylactic; and, over half of the species’ ranges extend into the Mojave Desert.