Bizarre new bee species discovered with dog-like snouts

Bizarre new bee species discovered with dog-like snouts

Leioproctus zephyrus

Specimen from new bee species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

A new native bee species with a dog-like “snout” has been discovered in the wilderness of Perth in Western Australia. It was identified through Curtin University-led research that sheds new light on our key pollinators.

dr. Kit Prendergast, of the Curtin School of Molecular and Life Sciences, named the new species after her dog Zephyr after noting that a protruding part of the insect’s face resembled a dog’s snout. The name also recognizes the role her dog played in providing emotional support during her PhD. dr. Prendergast is the author of a paper on the discovery published October 31 in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

According to Dr. Prendergast would add the rare and remarkable finding to existing knowledge about our evolving biodiversity. It would also ensure that the bees, called Leioproctus zephyrwere protected by conservation efforts.

“When I first examined the specimens I collected during my doctoral studies to discover the biodiversity of native bees in urbanized areas of the southwestern WA biodiversity hotspot, I was immediately intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” said Dr. Prendergast.

Leioproctus zephyrus specimen

Specimen from new bee species, Leioproctus zephyr. Credit: Curtin University

“When I went to identify it, I found it didn’t match any of the described species, and I was sure that if it was a known species, it would be quite easy to identify, given its unusual appearance.

“You can only confirm a particular species if you look at them under a microscope and go through the long process of trying to match their characteristics with other identified species, then going through museum collections.

“When I was perusing the WA Museum’s Entomology Collection, I discovered that a few copies of Leioproctus zephyrus was first collected in 1979, but it had never been scientifically described.”

dr. Prendergast said she was excited to play a role in publicizing this species and naming it officially.

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

“The Leioproctus zephyr has a very limited distribution, occurring in only seven locations in southwestern WA so far and has not been collected from their native location. They were completely absent from residential gardens and only present on five urban bushland remnants I examined, where they foraged on two plant species of Jacksonia.

“Not only are this species picky, they also have a clypeus that looks like a snout. That’s why I named them after my dog ​​Zephyr. She has been so important to my mental health and well-being during the challenging period of doing a PhD and beyond.”

dr. Prendergast was able to confirm that the new species was most closely related to other unidentified species slate processis through[{” 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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