Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 703–712

Direct and indirect fossil records of megachilid bees from the Paleogene of Central Europe (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

  • Sonja Wedmann
  • Torsten Wappler
  • Michael S. Engel
Original Paper

Abstract

Aside from pollen and nectar, bees of the subfamily Megachilinae are closely associated with plants as a source of materials for nest construction. Megachilines use resins, masticated leaves, trichomes and other plant materials sometimes along with mud to construct nests in cavities or in soil. Among these, the leafcutter bees (Megachile s.l.) are the most famous for their behaviour to line their brood cells with discs cut from various plants. We report on fossil records of one body fossil of a new non-leafcutting megachiline and of 12 leafcuttings from three European sites—Eckfeld and Messel, both in Germany (Eocene), and Menat, France (Paleocene). The excisions include the currently earliest record of probable Megachile activity and suggest the presence of such bees in the Paleocene European fauna. Comparison with extant leafcuttings permits the interpretation of a minimal number of species that produced these excisions. The wide range of size for the leafcuttings indirectly might suggest at least two species of Megachile for the fauna of Messel in addition to the other megachiline bee described here. The presence of several cuttings on most leaves from Eckfeld implies that the preferential foraging behaviour of extant Megachile arose early in megachiline evolution. These results demonstrate that combined investigation of body and trace fossils complement each other in understanding past biodiversity, the latter permitting the detection of taxa not otherwise directly sampled and inferences on behavioural evolution.

Keywords

Insecta Apoidea Anthophila Leafcutter bees Ichnology Biodiversity Tertiary Eckfeld Messel Menat 

References

  1. Altevogt R (1955) Zur Technik der Blattschneidebienen Megachile bicolor F und M. maritima Schck. Beitr Entomol 5:152–165Google Scholar
  2. Berry EW (1931) An insect-cut leaf from the Lower Eocene. Am J Sci 21:301–304Google Scholar
  3. Bischoff H (1927) Biologie der Hymenopteren. Springer Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  4. Bohart GE, Youssef NN (1972) Notes on the biology of Megachile (Megachiloides) umatillensis Mitchell (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae) and its parasites. Trans R Ent Soc Lond 124:1–19Google Scholar
  5. Brooks HK (1955) Healed wounds and galls on fossil leaves from the Wilcox deposits (Eocene) of western Tennessee. Psyche 62:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cockerell TDA (1910) A tertiary leaf-cutting bee. Nature 2102:429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Engel MS (1999) Megachile glaesaria, the first megachilid bee fossil from amber (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Am Mus Novitates 3276:1–13Google Scholar
  8. Engel MS (2001) A monograph of the Baltic Amber bees and evolution of the Apoidea (Hymenoptera). Bull Am Mus Nat Hist 259:1–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Engel MS (2004) Geological history of the bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Rev Tecnologia e Ambiente 10:9–33Google Scholar
  10. Engel MS (2005) Family-group names for bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Am Mus Novitates 3476:1–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Engel MS (2008) A new species of Ctenoplectrella in Baltic amber (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Acta Zool Acad Sci Hung 54:319–324Google Scholar
  12. Engel MS, Perkovsky EE (2006) An Eocene bee in Rovno Amber (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Am Mus Novitates 3506:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Friese H (1923) Die europäischen Bienen (Apidae). Walter de Gruyter & Co., BerlinGoogle Scholar
  14. Grimaldi DA (1996) Amber: window to the past. Abrams, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Hasenkamp K-R (1974) Ökophysiologische und ökethologische Untersuchungen an Blattschneidebienen. Forma et Functio 7:139–178Google Scholar
  16. Horne M (1995) Leaf area and toughness: effects on nesting material preferences of Megachile rotundata (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 88:868–875Google Scholar
  17. Johnston JE (1993) Insects, spiders, and plants from the Tallahatta Formation (Middle Eocene) in Benton County, Mississippi. Miss Geol 14:71–82Google Scholar
  18. Kim J-Y (1992) Nest dimensions of two leaf-cutter bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). Ann Entomol Soc Am 85:85–90Google Scholar
  19. Kim J-Y (2007) Disc size regulation in the brood cell building behavior of leaf-cutter bee Megachile tsurugensis. Naturwissenschaften 94:981–990CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Labandeira CC (2002) Paleobiology of middle Eocene plant-insect associations from the Pacific Northwest: a preliminary report. Rocky Mountain Geology 37:31–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lewis SE (1994) Evidence of leaf-cutting bee damage from the Republic sites (Middle Eocene) of Washington. J Paleont 68:172–173Google Scholar
  22. Medler JT (1958) A note on Megachile inermis Prov. in trap-nests in Wisconsin. Can Entomol 90:325–327CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mertz DF, Renne PR (2005) A numerical age for the Messel fossil deposit (UNESCO World Heritage Site) derived from 40Ar/39Ar dating on a basaltic rock fragment. Cour Forschinst Senckenberg 255:67–75Google Scholar
  24. Mertz DF, Swisher CC, Franzen JL, Neuffer FO, Lutz H (2000) Numerical dating of the Eckfeld maar fossil site, Eifel, Germany: a calibration mark for the Eocene time scale. Naturwissenschaften 87:270–274CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Meyer HW (2003) The fossils of Florissant. Smithsonian Institution Press, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  26. Michener CD (1953) The biology of a leaf-cutter bee (Megachile brevis) and its associates. Univ Kansas Sci Bull 35:1659–1748Google Scholar
  27. Michener CD (2007) The bees of the world, 2nd edn. Johns Hopkins Univ Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  28. Nel A, Petrulevicius JF (2003) New Palaeogene bees from Europe and Asia. Alcheringa 27:277–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Roubik DW (1989) Ecological and natural history of tropical bees. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Russel DE (1982) The geology of the Menat basin, France. Palaeontographica (B) 182:89–90Google Scholar
  31. Sarzetti L, Labandeira CC, Genise JF (2008) A leafcutter bee trace fossils from the Middle Eocene of Patagonia Argentina and a review of megachilid (Hymenoptera) ichnology. Palaeontology 51:933–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Stephen WP, Torchio PF (1961) Biological notes on the leaf-cutter bee Megachile (Eutricharaea) rotundata (Fabricius). Pan-Pac Entomol 37:85–93Google Scholar
  33. Strickler K, Scott VL, Fischer RL (1996) Comparative nesting ecology of two sympatric leafcutting bees that differ in body size (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). J Kansas Entomol Soc 69:26–44Google Scholar
  34. Wappler T (2003) Die Insekten aus dem Mittel-Eozän des Eckfelder Maares Vulkaneifel. Mainzer Naturwiss Archiv Beiheft 27:1–234Google Scholar
  35. Wappler T, Engel MS (2002) Eocene bees from Germany. Schr.reiheGoogle Scholar
  36. Wappler T, Engel MS (2003) The middle Eocene bee faunas of Eckfeld and Messel, Germany (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). J Paleont 77:908–921CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Westrich P (1989) Die Wildbienen Baden-Württembergs, 2 Bände. Verlag Eugen UlmerGoogle Scholar
  38. Williams HJ, Strand MR, Elzen GW, Vinson SB, Merrit SJ (1986) Nesting behavior, nest architecture, and use of Dufour’s gland lipids in nest provisioning by Megachile integra and M. menidica mendica (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae). J Kansas Entomol Soc 59:588–597Google Scholar
  39. Wirth R, Herz H, Ryel RJ, Beyschlag W, Hölldobler B (eds.) (2003) Herbivory of leaf-cutting ants. Ecol Stud 164: 1-230Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sonja Wedmann
    • 1
  • Torsten Wappler
    • 2
  • Michael S. Engel
    • 3
  1. 1.Forschungsstation Grube MesselForschungsinstitut SenckenbergMesselGermany
  2. 2.Steinmann Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie, und PaläontologieUniversität BonnBonnGermany
  3. 3.Division of Entomology (Paleoentomology), Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Natural History MuseumUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

Personalised recommendations