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      Nest structure, pollen utilization and parasites associated with two west-Mediterranean bees (Hymenoptera, Apiformes, Megachilidae) nesting in empty snail shells

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      Journal of Hymenoptera Research

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Around thirty species of European solitary bee species in the family Megachilidae nest in empty gastropod shells. We surveyed this group of bees in semi-natural sites adjacent to almond orchards near Lleida (north-eastern Spain) and collected 35 Hoplitis fertoni and 58 Osmia ferruginea nests in shells of six snail species. We describe the nest structure and report the identity of pollens collected by the two bee species. Both species adjust the number of brood cells to the size of the shell and occasionally build intercalary (empty) cells. H. fertoni uses clay and O. ferruginea chewed plant leaves for building cell partitions and nest plugs. Most nests of both species were built in Sphincterochila candidissima shells. Analysis of the pollen of selected nests confirmed that H. fertoni is oligolectic on Boraginaceae (in our study all pollen was from Lithodora fruticosa) and O. ferruginea is a polylectic species (collecting mostly pollen from Cistaceae, Fabaceae, and Lamiaceae in our study area). Nests of H. fertoni were parasitized by five species, the golden wasp Chrysura hybrida, the cuckoo bee Dioxys moesta, the velvet ants Stenomutilla collaris and Stenomutilla hotentotta, and the bee-fly Anthrax aethiops; nests of O. ferruginea were parasitized by the sapygid wasp Sapyga quinquepunctata and A. aethiops. Except for C. hybrida these are newly recorded host-parasite associations. Our results confirm previous information and bring new findings on the ecology of both species.

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          Most cited references 19

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          Host-Plant Specialization in Western Palearctic Anthidine Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Megachilidae)

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            Why do leafcutter bees cut leaves? New insights into the early evolution of bees.

            Stark contrasts in clade species diversity are reported across the tree of life and are especially conspicuous when observed in closely related lineages. The explanation for such disparity has often been attributed to the evolution of key innovations that facilitate colonization of new ecological niches. The factors underlying diversification in bees remain poorly explored. Bees are thought to have originated from apoid wasps during the Mid-Cretaceous, a period that coincides with the appearance of angiosperm eudicot pollen grains in the fossil record. The reliance of bees on angiosperm pollen and their fundamental role as angiosperm pollinators have contributed to the idea that both groups may have undergone simultaneous radiations. We demonstrate that one key innovation--the inclusion of foreign material in nest construction--underlies both a massive range expansion and a significant increase in the rate of diversification within the second largest bee family, Megachilidae. Basal clades within the family are restricted to deserts and exhibit plesiomorphic features rarely observed among modern bees, but prevalent among apoid wasps. Our results suggest that early bees inherited a suite of behavioural traits that acted as powerful evolutionary constraints. While the transition to pollen as a larval food source opened an enormous ecological niche for the early bees, the exploitation of this niche and the subsequent diversification of bees only became possible after bees had evolved adaptations to overcome these constraints.
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              Patterns of host-plant choice in bees of the genus Chelostoma: the constraint hypothesis of host-range evolution in bees.

              To trace the evolution of host-plant choice in bees of the genus Chelostoma (Megachilidae), we assessed the host plants of 35 Palearctic, North American and Indomalayan species by microscopically analyzing the pollen loads of 634 females and reconstructed their phylogenetic history based on four genes and a morphological dataset, applying both parsimony and Bayesian methods. All species except two were found to be strict pollen specialists at the level of plant family or genus. These oligolectic species together exploit the flowers of eight different plant orders that are distributed among all major angiosperm lineages. Based on ancestral state reconstruction, we found that oligolecty is the ancestral state in Chelostoma and that the two pollen generalists evolved from oligolectic ancestors. The distinct pattern of host broadening in these two polylectic species, the highly conserved floral specializations within the different clades, the exploitation of unrelated hosts with a striking floral similarity as well as a recent report on larval performance on nonhost pollen in two Chelostoma species clearly suggest that floral host choice is physiologically or neurologically constrained in bees of the genus Chelostoma. Based on this finding, we propose a new hypothesis on the evolution of host range in bees.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Journal of Hymenoptera Research
                JHR
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-2607
                1070-9428
                April 27 2020
                April 27 2020
                : 76
                : 113-125
                Article
                10.3897/jhr.76.49579
                © 2020

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