(EurekAlert/Flinders University) Ancestors of a distinctive pollinating bee found across Australia probably originated in tropical Asian countries, islands in the south-west Pacific or greater Oceania region. Describing the likely dispersal corridor for the ancestral lineage of the bee genus Homalictus will help understand the social evolution of the vibrant halictine bees say researchers. Ecologists are hopeful that the diverse origins of native bees are giving them an edge in withstanding and adapting further to climate change.
(The Conversation) The HMS Endeavour’s week-long stay on the shores of Kamay in 1770 yielded so many botanical specimens unknown to western science, Captain James Cook called the area Botany Bay. Today, however, the site better reflects 20th-century European exploitation of the Australian landscape than it does early or pre-British Botany Bay. Yet not all is lost. “We studied pollen released from flowering plants and conifers, which can accumulate and preserve in sediment layers through time. Looking at this preserved pollen lets us develop a timeline of vegetation change over hundreds to thousands of years.”
(Stanford University) Researchers have discovered an ancient plant species whose reproductive biology captures the evolution from one to two spore sizes – an essential transition to the success of the seed and flowering plants we depend on.
(EurekAlert/Flinders University) The adaptation to new habitats and niches is often assumed to drive the diversification of species. But rare bees found in high mountain areas of Fiji provide evidence that they have evolved into many species, despite the fact they can’t readily adapt to different habitats. “Perhaps, if Darwin had studied Fijian bees instead of Galapagos finches, he might have come to rather different conclusions about the origin of species.”
(Museum für Naturkunde) Help the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin make its Hymenoptera collection digitally accessible by transcribing labels for bees and other species in the collection. All you need is some time and a computer. Here’s how you can help.
(Museum of the Earth) The current special exhibit at the Museum of the Earth in Ithaca, New York, is “Bees! Diversity, Evolution, Conservation”. While the museum has made the decision to keep the physical building closed until further notice, they are pleased to announce that an online version of the exhibit is now available. The physical exhibit was developed in conjunction with Bryan Danforth, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology at Cornell University.
(Oregon State University) The mid-Cretaceous fossil from Myanmar provides the first record of a primitive bee with pollen and also the first record of the beetle parasites, which continue to show up on modern bees today.
(National Geographic) Ancient nests confirm that bees were alive and well in Patagonia 100 million years ago, marking the oldest fossil evidence for modern bees. The nests consist of tunnels studded with grape-shaped alcoves and look almost exactly like the nests of of modern halictid bees.