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Contribution of DNA barcoding to the study of the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) of Canada: progress to date

  • Cory S. Sheffield (a1), Jennifer Heron (a2), Jason Gibbs (a3), Thomas M. Onuferko (a4), Ryan Oram (a1) (a5), Lincoln Best (a6), Nicholai deSilva (a4), Sheila Dumesh (a4), Alana Pindar (a7) and Genevieve Rowe (a4)...


Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea, Apiformes) are taxonomically and ecologically diverse, with a wide range of social complexity, nesting preferences, floral associations, and biogeographic restrictions. A Canadian bee checklist, greatly assisted by the gene-assisted approach of DNA barcoding, is nearing completion. Previous evaluation of bee diversity in Canada, assisted by DNA barcoding, was restricted to Nova Scotia, which contains about 25% of the bee species in the country. Here, we summarise efforts to date to build a comprehensive DNA barcode library supporting bee taxonomic studies in Canada, consisting of more than 12 500 barcode-compliant sequences yielding 811 distinct barcode index numbers (BINs). This appears to represent ~95% of the 856 bee species presently recorded from Canada, but comparison with known morphological species in each genus shows that some genera are still under-sampled or may contain cryptic taxa, with much taxonomic work still to be done on bees in Canada. This is particularly true within the taxonomically difficult genera Andrena Fabricius (Andrenidae), Hylaeus Fabricius (Colletidae), Melissodes Latreille (Apidae), Nomada Scopoli (Apidae), Osmia Panzer (Megachilidae), and Sphecodes Latreille (Halictidae). DNA analysis will likely be a key asset in resolving bee taxonomic issues in Canada in the future, and to date has even assisted studies of well-known bee taxa. Here we present summaries of our results, and discuss the use of DNA barcoding to assist future taxonomic work, faunal lists, and ecological studies.

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