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Bees of the western Palaearctic

Posted by John Jackson on Mar 6, 2013 11:24:01 AM

Michael Kuhlmann and colleagues have put the beta version of the “Checklist of Western Palaearctic Bees” online (http://westpalbees.myspecies.info) using the NHM-developed Scratchpads as a platform.

 

Bees are the most important pollinators worldwide and the checklist provides access to taxonomic information and distribution data on country level to about 3350 bee species in 102 genera in the western Palaearctic region, with almost 2000 species recorded for Europe alone. The site contains regularly updated information from both published and unpublished sources including data from a whole range of private and public collections that are provided by European wild bee experts. The checklist reflects the current state of knowledge on the taxonomy and distribution of western Palaearctic bees, making it a prime source of information not only for taxonomists but also ecologists and agricultural scientists.

 

The checklist project started in 2008 and it quickly became clear that taxonomic expertise is globally lacking for several genera and that this gap is likely to grow quickly due to the progressive ageing of the community of bee taxonomists . The places most heavily affected by the loss of taxonomic knowledge are the “hotspots” of species diversity and endemism around the Mediterranean, in Turkey and the Middle East. Unfortunately, these are the areas that are most likely to be heavily affected by climate and landscape change. For this reason it seems possible that most of the predicted changes and losses of unique fauna will go unnoticed.

 

IMG_0579.jpgBombus (Pyrobombus) pratorum, the early bumblebee on Pentaglottis sempervirens

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