Scientists Spot 'Ultra-Rare’ Blue Bee Feared Extinct
Scientists have "rediscovered" a rare blue bee that they feared was extinct.
Until this spring, the "ultra-rare" blue calamintha bee (Osmia calaminthae) had only been observed in four locations in central Florida, and it hadn't been seen at all since 2016. So when Florida Museum of Natural History research team Chase Kimmel and Jaret Daniels set out to document the bee's population status and habits, they weren't sure what they would find.
"I was open to the possibility that we may not find the bee at all so that first moment when we spotted it in the field was really exciting," Kimmel, a postdoctoral researcher, said in a museum press release.
#Florida’s rare blue calamintha bee was feared extinct until researchers in @jcdaniels lab rediscovered the species… https://t.co/BbdU6ZDrJq— Florida Museum (@Florida Museum)1588866013.0
Kimmel first spotted the bee March 9, he told USA TODAY in an email. Since then, he has spotted the elusive pollinator in three of its previous locations and six additiona locations, according to the museum.
The research could have important implications for the bee's chances of survival. Florida's State Wildlife Action Plan lists the bee as a species of greatest conservation need, and the study will help determine if it warrants Endangered Species Act protections.
The bee is so vulnerable in part because it is thought to rely on a threatened plant called Ashe's calamint and live only in Florida's Lake Wales Ridge region, a hotspot of biodiversity that the museum calls "one of the nation's fastest-disappearing ecosystems."
The ridge hosts so much unique life because, when most of Florida was underwater, it was raised above the waves in high sand dunes that acted like islands, giving isolated ecosystems a chance to flourish. Now, these habitats are islands of pine scrub in a sea of orange groves.
"It's one thing to read about habitat loss and development and another to be driving for 30-40 minutes through miles of orange groves just to get to a really small conservation site," Kimmel said. "It puts into perspective how much habitat loss affects all the animals that live in this area."
The bee also exhibits unique behaviors. It gathers pollen by bobbing its head side to side to collect it on its facial hairs. The very first time he saw the bee, Kimmel got a chance to see this in action.
"We observed a shiny little blue bee grabbing the flower and rubbing its head on the top portion of the flower two or three times before moving on to another flower," Kimmel told CNN. "In reading about this unique behavior we were pretty shocked to see it."
Kimmel and Daniels' research is set to last two years and determine the bee's feeding and nesting habits. So far, the team has found another plant the bee will use if it can't find Ashe's calamint.
The research has been hampered somewhat by the coronavirus pandemic, since travel restrictions mean Kimmel is in the field alone during the bee's flight season from mid-March to early May.
"It's a very time-limited flight. Now is when the bulk of that activity has to take place," Daniels, who is acting as Kimmel's adviser and is also the director of the museum's McGuire Center for Lepidoptera and Biodiversity, said in the press release. "Chase is doing a fantastic job and we're getting a lot of great data, but if it wasn't for the COVID-19 virus we would have had more people in the field, so it has definitely scaled back what we're able to do."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Priyanka Jaisinghani
COVID-19, "stay-at-home" orders and enforced physical distancing has made us more dependent on digital when it comes to connection and communication at both a local and global level.
Civic Engagement Redefined<p>Long-lasting impact requires changes from the bottom up. Civic engagement means working to make a difference in our communities to promote quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.</p><p>We're seeing how, across multiple issues, young people are becoming active participants in driving dialogues with policy-makers, on a state and federal level. In addition, they are empowering the citizens of the communities in which they reside, taking an active role in shaping the future we hold.</p>
1. Racial Justice<p>Across the U.S., we saw the rise of the racial justice movement through Black Lives Matter. Hundreds of protestors came to the streets, from New York to Nevada, acknowledging, supporting and condemning the long-existing inequalities faced by the black community. We saw this movement propel beyond the streets, throughout social media, and to the polling stations.</p><p>Young activists were demanding not only awareness but also change. In this digital space, young people started sharing resources and information for others to educate themselves about the pressing need for racial justice. They were able to mobilize support to inform, educate and shape citizen action. They shared links to petitions, offered advice for safe protesting practices, created templates for emailing authorities, listed bail funds and black-owned restaurants and businesses in need of support. They used social media to support the various needs of this movement – and continue to do so.</p>
2. Climate Change<p>The youth-led climate change has become dominant online. Every Friday, young people lead a digital #ClimateStrike to raise awareness of important legislative initiatives and create tangible ways for individuals to get involved in the fight against climate change.</p><p>As a leading example, to commemorate this year's Earth Day, youth held a 72-hour, live-streamed "digital march" with protests, speeches, and more. This "digital march" was attended by more than 200,000 viewers. Young people are pivoting their strategies and applying them to a digital space. We know when the streets are safe again, they will continue their activism by marching to raise awareness both on the streets and digitally.</p>
3. Voting Rights<p>Voting is another pertinent issue coming to the fore. In <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/315761/lack-voting-information-hamper-youth-turnout.aspx" target="_blank">a Gallup poll</a>, four out of five (79%) young people say "the coronavirus pandemic has helped them realize how much political leaders' decisions impact their lives"; three in five say "they are part of a movement that will vote to express its views."</p><p>As a result of these changing attitudes, young people are having conversations with their families and finding ways to get politically active. They're donating funds to campaigns, volunteering their time to raise awareness around voting and creating social campaigns to try to influence other people to vote and register to vote.</p>
How social media is used in the U.S. for political issues. Statista<p>It's inspiring to see young people around the world deeply engaged in the digital space and continuing their activism. They have played a critical role in calling for change and transformation in society. From climate to health to politics, young people are the most affected. The only way to make progress is to build back better. They're building upon existing issues and movements, creating new alliances and driving conversations and action. This generation is also building upon the same values and ideas of those before them to change the status quo and find ways to enact change for a better future.</p>
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By Mike Gaworecki
Today we take a look at efforts to protect the Cross River gorilla, one of the world's rarest great ape subspecies, which include a radio program broadcast to nearly 4 million Nigerians that is helping to address the attitudes and knowledge gaps that lead to the human behaviors threatening the gorillas' survival.
Listen here:<iframe style="border: none" src="//html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/16399115/height/90/theme/custom/thumbnail/yes/direction/backward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/3e5014/" height="90" width="100%" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen oallowfullscreen msallowfullscreen></iframe>
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