Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 613–622 | Cite as

Recipe for disruption: multiple recent arrivals of megachilid bees in Pacific archipelagos

  • Scott V. C. GroomEmail author
  • Sarah E. Hayes
  • Hien T. Ngo
  • Mark I. Stevens
  • Michael P. Schwarz


When examining how the ecosystems of remote islands have developed, it is important to know the timing of when various elements arrived and whether they then diversified. Our understanding of the histories behind the biodiverse south west Pacific (SWP) archipelagos is limited, and further impeded by the complex geological histories of this region. Previous studies of the SWP short-tongued halictine bee fauna suggest their presence is much younger than the geological ages of these archipelagos, which is surprising given their critical role as pollinators in other terrestrial ecosystems. The long-tongued megachilid bees represent a considerable proportion of the known bee species for the region, yet little is known of their origin. Here we use genetic diversity within mitochondrial DNA to infer the likely ages and origins of megachilid species from Vanuatu, Fiji, and Samoa. Our results indicate a very recent origin for megachilids in the SWP, with many species exhibiting small intraspecific genetic distances. Three species share almost identical haplotypes with specimens from Southeast Asia, suggesting multiple human-aided introductions. Combined with data from recent studies on other bee groups present in the region, our results have broad implications for how the Pacific island biota developed and how we should approach its management.


Vanuatu Fiji Samoa Pollinators Island biogeography Conservation 



We thank Marika Tuiwawa and all members of the South Pacific Regional Herbarium at the University of the South Pacific for their invaluable assistance with Fijian field logistics and expertise. Linette Berukilukilu and Plant Health and Quarantine oversaw remote field collections and facilitated permit acquisition in Vanuatu. Sampling in Samoa would not have been possible without the assistance of Afele Faiilagi and the Ministry for Natural Resources and Environment. We thank an anonymous reviewer for valuable suggestions on the manuscript. Funding for this research was gratefully received from the Australia Pacific Science Foundation, Rufford Foundation, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, and the Australia Awards Endeavour Research Fellowship Program. An NSERC Discovery Grant awarded to Dr Laurence Packer funded collection and sequencing of SE Asian representatives.

Supplementary material

10841_2014_9665_MOESM1_ESM.xls (70 kb)
Supplementary material 1 Table 1 Locality data and sequence ID numbers for all included sequences. Sequence ID corresponds to BOLD Systems database records except where underlined to indicate Genbank accession numbers. (XLS 70 kb)
10841_2014_9665_MOESM2_ESM.xls (1.6 mb)
Supplementary material 2 Table 2 Pairwise comparison of uncorrected p-distances for all representatives included in both distance-based and Bayesian analyses. (XLS 1589 kb)
10841_2014_9665_MOESM3_ESM.eps (2 mb)
Supplementary material 3 Figure 1 Bayesian phylogram with clades not collapsed as presented in Figure 1 based on mtDNA (COI) dataset. Phylogram estimated via MrBayes with GTR + I + Γ substitution prior for a dataset partitioned by 1st + 2nd, and 3rd codon positions. (EPS 2010 kb)
10841_2014_9665_MOESM4_ESM.eps (1.9 mb)
Supplementary material 4 Figure 2 Neighbour-joining phylogram based on uncorrected ‘p’ genetic distances between Megachilidae bee COI haplotypes. Scale bar indicates substitutions per nucleotide. (EPS 1945 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott V. C. Groom
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah E. Hayes
    • 1
  • Hien T. Ngo
    • 2
  • Mark I. Stevens
    • 3
    • 4
  • Michael P. Schwarz
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesFlinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Department of BiologyYork UniversityTorontoCanada
  3. 3.South Australian MuseumAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.School of Pharmacy and Medical SciencesUniversity of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia

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