How can biogeography, life history, and community science inform conservation of Asian bee species?
by John S. Ascher | Azhagarraja S. | National University Singapore | Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa, India
Abstract ID: 184
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: An evolutionary perspective on pollinator biodiversity, systematics, and conservation
Presenter Name: John S. Ascher

Thousands of bee species occur across Asia and this continent is a global hotspot for radiations of honey bees (Apis), bumble bees (Bombus), stingless bees (Meliponini), carpenter bees (Xylocopa), and myriad less conspicuous groups. Regional species include charismatic megafauna such as giant honey bees that provide important ecosystem services and economic benefits. However, a large proportion of Asian bee species are known only from inadequate primary descriptions, often unillustrated, for a single sex, and from one or a few localities. Workers across much of Asia, especially the tropics, find it difficult to identify most of the regional species in part because most types and other reference material resides elsewhere, especially in Europe. This talk will first describe progress made in identifying regional bees and determining their geographic ranges. In particular, it will showcase the emergence of iNaturalist as an important resource to improve and share taxonomic and biogeographic data across Asia, a region with a paucity of digitized historical specimens and facing serious impediments to ongoing collecting. Data accumulating daily online has expanded the ranges of many species, improved species distribution models, and demonstrated persistence of key bee pollinators across the region. Nonetheless, a large proportion of Asian bee species have zero records from any source in public databases (GBIF+) if represented there are at all (many are lacking even from the taxonomic backbone) so are unlikely to be assignable to a threat status (other than Data Deficient) in conservation assessments planned by the IUCN Wild Bee Specialist Group for Asia. to describing how a synthetic approach combining insights from phylogenies (still highly incomplete for Asian bee taxa), biogeographic and modeling studies, life history studies, and trait databases can inform bee conservation despite fragmentary species-specific information, modeled after a recent application of this approach by P. Williams to better-studied bumble bees.