Lasioglossum gotham is one of 11 new bees discovered in the Eastern U.S. It earned its “Gotham” tag because it is one of four found living in New York City and its suburbs. All 11 new bees are detailed in the article, “Revision of the metallic Lasioglossum (Dialictus) of eastern North America,” in the peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa, October 2012.
Jason Gibbs, the Cornell post-doctoral researcher in entomology who discovered the bees and author of the Zootaxa paper, used the extensive bee collections at Cornell University, York University in Toronto, and the American Museum of Natural History, among others, to confirm the new species. All eleven of the newly discovered species are tiny “sweat bees,” which earned their name from their innate attraction to the salt in human sweat.
“It’s remarkable that so many bees are able to live in such a major urban area,” said Gibbs. “Natural areas like urban parks and rooftop and botanical gardens provide the nesting sites and floral diversity that bees need.”
The Gotham bee has been a busy bee, quietly living in anonymity in New York City, pollinating flowers in parks and people’s small gardens.
The American Museum of Natural History plans to release details about Lasioglossum gotham and the 10 other new bee species through its Bee Database Project, which seeks to digitize the collections of native bees from 10 major collections, including Cornell University.
“Museum collections, like the one at Cornell, are invaluable resources for understanding the diversity of bees and their changing abundances over time”, Gibbs said. “Bees are vitally important pollinators but there is a great deal we still need to learn about our native species.”
Gibbs’ researched was funded through the Canadian Barcode of Life Network, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the National Science Foundation.Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Department of Entomology are available at: http://entomology.cornell.edu
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