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  • Dana Visalli
    Greetings; I m new to the group, from north-central Washington. I m stumped by bees, but am beginning to pay attention. Bumblebees are a good place to start.
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 23, 2012
      I'm new to the group, from north-central Washington.  I'm stumped by bees, but am beginning to pay attention.
      Bumblebees are a good place to start.
      A new 148 page 'Guide to the Bumblebees of the Western United States' is available for download avialable here:

      ftp://ftp2.fs.fed.us/incoming/r6/ro/issssp/Inventories/   It's very well done.


      I had made up a list of Washington state BB last year from DiscoverLife, and noticed that in this new guide

      B. lapponicus was absent, although it is shown throughout the northern hemisphere at DiscoverLife

      (here: http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Bombus+lapponicus )


      I queried one of the authors of the guide, James Strange, and he answered as follows.  Does anyone else have

      any input on this species?


      James wrote:


      I am not sure why the guys at Discoverlife.org place Bombus lapponicus in the New World.  Since at least Stephen’s

      1957 ‘Bumble Bees of Western America’ this name has not been used in New World bees.  However, some authors

      have suggested that B. lapponicus and B. sylvicola are a single species.  Several molecular and morphological studies

      support the separation.  B. lapponicus is a Eurasian species.  Our species, B. sylvicola, is closely related species to the

      Eurasian bee and might simply have been misidentified in the past.  The second possibility is that there was one German

      author (Friese 1924) who use the name B. lapponicus to describe the bee now known as B. melanopygus edwardsii. It is

      clear now, again using molecular studies, morphology and mating studies that this bee is a subspecies of B. melanopygus

      and the subspecies is restricted in distribution to California and southern OR.  Looking at the map on discoverlife.org I don’t

      think that is the issue. 

      My guess is that someone in the past identified these bees as lapponicus and not sylvicola and that is how  they were entered into
      the discover life database.  Our co author, Paul Williams, has a nice explanation on his website:

      Hmmm...can't copy from William's site but he writes 'Until more evidence is available....I shall treat them as two separate species.'

      Dana Visalli
      Twisp, WA



    • John Ascher
      Hi Dana et al., There seems to be ongoing confusion about the guys at Discover Life and about responsibility for Discover Life data which should be
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 23, 2012
        Hi Dana et al.,

        There seems to be ongoing confusion about "the guys at" Discover Life and about responsibility for "Discover Life" data which should be clarified. I have attempted to do this repeatedly in the past but evidently without success.

        Discover Life is a data display and integration portal. It does not own the specimen and other records displayed on its maps and is not responsible for data quality or lack thereof of the records displayed, although the website's code automatically corrects some of the more frequent and obvious errors such as failure to place a minus sign in front of Western Hemisphere longitude. All records have an owner other than Discover Life and there is a feedback link at the bottom of each. Any questions about the utility of records should be directed directly to the data owners.

        Regarding lack of use of the name Bombus lapponicus for New World bees, Bombus sylvicola was recognized as a possible synoym of lapponicus in the most prominent of sources, i.e. Paul Williams' world catalogue for the genus. Although I believe that Dr. Williams now regards the two species as distinct, his work lent credence to those who provisionally treated them as conspecific.

        My understanding is that Bombus edwardsii is now considered a synonym of B. melanopygus rather than a valid subspecies.

        Please note that the North American records of lapponicus (sensu lato, =sylvicola) are not records submitted directly to Discover Life but instead were obtained via GBIF, the primary data portal to which these were submitted. They are owned by collections such as OSU, INHS, and CNC. Those working more closely with Discover Life and using it as our primary biodiversity portal have not endorsed thse records in any way. I encourage anyone who thinks it unproductive for these to map as lapponicus to contact the relevant data owners in the hope that they will update to the currently accepted taxonomy as reflected in the distributional authority associated with Discover Life (my AMNH_BEES dataset which can be cited as Ascher and Pickering, 2012).

        Please query me directly if the relationship between data owners and data display and integration portals and the particular responsibilities of each are not sufficiently clear.


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