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Assessing the status of bees

NSF Award:

Collaborative Research: Collaborative Databasing of North American Bee Collections Within a Global Informatics Network  (American Museum Natural History)

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Declines of certain bee groups including honeybees and bumblebees are now well documented and of great concern due to their essential role as pollinators. However, comprehensive information about the taxonomy, distribution and status of most other bee groups has been limited and difficult to access.

Now, a multi-institution effort has created software to capture and integrate more than 1 million bee specimen records. Analyses of this comprehensive global dataset show that bees respond to climatic warming and that only certain bee groups have declined dramatically.

The Web-based software links to the biodiversity portal "Discover Life" and permits efficient and accurate data capture across many institutions, including many previously lacking the capacity to digitize specimen records. The database will aid scientists and policymakers investigating the status of crop pollinators, the response of bees to climate change and other phenomena.

John Ascher, formerly with the American Natural History Museum (ANHM) and now with the National University of Singapore, led the research group that created the data tools. The team included Douglas Yanega of the University of Califorina, Riverside, Jerome Rozen Jr. of AMNH, John Pickering of the University of Georgia and Randall "Toby" Schuh, curator emeritus of AMNH.

Images (1 of )

  • a male bee of the genus sphecodes
  • a female bee, trachusa dorsalis
  • a female bee, augochlora pura
  • a male bee, xylocopa virginica
  • a closeup of a male bee's head
  • a female bee, lasioglossum (dialictus)
A male bee of the genus Sphecodes.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com
A female bee, Trachusa dorsalis.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com
A female bee, augochlora pura.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com
A male bee, xylocopa virginica.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com
The head of a male bee, xylocopa virginica.
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com
A female bee, lasioglossum (dialictus).
Noah Fram-Schwartz, Nmacro.com

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