Invertebrate Systematics Invertebrate Systematics Society
Systematics, phylogeny and biogeography
RESEARCH ARTICLE

The bee genera Haplomelitta and Samba (Hymenoptera : Anthophila : Melittidae): phylogeny, biogeography and host plants

Denis Michez A E , Connal Eardley B , Michael Kuhlmann C , Kim Timmermann D and Sébastien Patiny A

A University of Mons, Laboratory of Zoology, Place du parc 20, 7000 Mons, Belgium.

B Agricultural Research Council, Private Bag X134, 0121 Queenswood, Pretoria, South Africa/School of Biological and Conservation Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa.

C Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom.

D Institute of Landscape Ecology, University of Münster, Robert-Koch-Str. 26, D-48149 Münster, Germany.

E Corresponding author. Email: denis.michez@umons.ac.be

Invertebrate Systematics 24(4) 327-347 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/IS10008
Submitted: 3 March 2010  Accepted: 3 September 2010   Published: 13 December 2010

Abstract

Recent molecular phylogenetic data showed the Melittidae as the likely sister group to all other bees and indicated that proto-melittids could have been host-plant specialists originating in Africa. However, robust phylogenetic data at generic and species level are now needed for all melittid clades to test these hypotheses and investigate early melittid and bee evolution in general. The bee genera Haplomelitta and Samba, which comprise the former tribe Sambini (Hymenoptera : Melittidae), are revised here. The genera are endemic to the Afrotropical region, occurring in eastern and southern Africa. Previous studies hypothesised that Samba rendered Haplomelitta paraphyletic but a conclusive taxonomic decision was not proposed. By performing a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis based on five nuclear genes (28S, CAD, EF-1α (F2 copy), long-wavelength rhodopsin (opsin) and RNA polymerase II (RNAp); total 4179 bp) and morphological characters (34 characters), we here synonymise Haplomelitta with Samba. The genus is now subdivided into six subgenera containing 10 species, four of which are here described as new, namely: S. ascheri, S. gessorum, S. spinosa and S. rubigoinis. Moreover, we also considered biogeography, phenology and floral visitation data. Samba seems to have originated in southern Africa and later colonised eastern Africa. The ancestral host-plant foraging strategy was probably specialisation on one plant family (e.g. oligolectism). This result supports the hypothesis that the ancestor of bees arose in Africa and was a host-plant specialist.

Additional keywords: Afrotropical region, host specialisation, new species.


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