Rare bee found after almost 100 years

The last record of the endemic species was recorded in Queensland in 1923. Photo: Getty Images/stock
The last record of the endemic species was recorded in Queensland in 1923. Photo: Getty Images/stock
Populations of a rare Australian bee which has not been recorded for almost 100 years have been found in NSW and Queensland.

But scientists have warned the Pharohylaeus lactiferus is facing increasing pressure to survive because of climate change, the loss of habitat and fragmentation of Australia's rainforest.

The last record of the endemic species was recorded in Queensland in 1923. At that time only six individual bees had ever been found.

But it was rediscovered following extensive sampling of almost 250 sites.

"Three populations were found by sampling bees visiting their favoured plant species along much of the Australian east coast, suggesting population isolation," Flinders University biological sciences PhD candidate James Dorey said.

Mr Dorey said a highly fragmented habitat and a susceptibility to bushfires might explain the rarity of Pharohylaeus lactiferus.

His study also warned the species was even more vulnerable as they appeared to favour specific floral specimens and were only found near tropical or sub-tropical rainforest.

He said future research should aim to increase the understanding of the bees' biology, ecology and population genetics.

"If we are to understand and protect these wonderful Australian species, we really need to increase biomonitoring and conservation efforts, along with funding for the museum curation and digitisation of their collections and other initiatives," Mr Dorey said.

His paper has been published in The Journal of Hymenoptera Research.

Comments

A recent report has found that a quarter of all known bee species haven't been seen since the 1990s.

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