Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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This Species Of Australian Bee Has A Dog-Like ‘Snout’

Dr Kit Prendergast named the species after her pet dog Zephyr

A new species of Australian bee with a dog-like ‘snout’ has been discovered in Perth bushland. Researchers at Curtin University called the bee Leioproctus zephyr

Researcher Dr Kit Prendergast named the species after her pet dog Zephyr because it provided her emotional support during her PhD and after she noticed a protruding part of the bee’s face which looked similar to a dog’s snout.

She said, “When I first examined the specimens that I collected during my PhD surveys discovering the biodiversity of native bees in urbanised regions of the southwest Western Australian biodiversity hotspot, I was instantly intrigued by the bee’s very unusual face,” Prendergrast said. 

She added, “When I went to identify it, I found it matched no described species, and I was sure that if it was a known species, it would be quite easy to identify given how unusual it was in appearance.” 

The research was published in the Journal of Hymenoptera Research. The rare and remarkable findings will add to existing knowledge about Australia’s ever-evolving biodiversity, Dr Prendergast said. 

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

She added, “When perusing the WA Museum’s Entomology collection, I discovered that a few specimens of Leioproctus Zephyrus had first been collected in 1979, but it had never been scientifically described.”

Further, she said that she was excited to play a role in making this species known and wanted to officially name it. 

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

“The Leioproctus zephyr has a highly restricted distribution, only occurring in seven locations across the southwest WA to date, and have not been collected from their original location. They were entirely absent from residential gardens and only present at five urban bushland remnants that I surveyed, where they foraged on two plant species of Jacksonia.

“Not only is this species fussy, but they also have a clypeus that looks like a snout. Hence, 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.”

The paper is titled “Leioproctus zephyr Prendergast (Hymenoptera, Colletidae, Leioproctus), an oligoletic new bee species with a remarkable clypeus.”

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