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By Erika Menvrillo

Unprecedented Discovery: Colombia’s Tatacoa Desert is home to 110 bee species, including Centris celadonia, a new species.

In the heart of the Colombia, exactly in the department of Huila, there is Tatacoa: the second largest arid area in the country, as well as one of the most attractive natural sceneries, famous for its land of ocher and gray colors with some patches of cactus green. Although it is known as a “desert”, it really is not, as it is a dry tropical forest with clear desertification characteristics.

One of the most incredible and kept secrets of these wonderful lands has just been revealed: in an area of ​​just 330 square kilometers, 110 different species of api. According to the study conducted by a group of researchers from the Nueva Granada Military University in Bogotà, many are even endemic, meaning they are found only there and nowhere else in the world.

We found that there was a great diversity of bees, more than one would expect from an arid area like Tatacoa, ”says biologist Andrés Felipe Herrera Motta, who carried out part of the analysis with a large research team.

110 species of bees

The study in Tatacoa includes a poster showing the research findings on bees and their sizes compared. Although there are 104 species of bees, 110 species have actually been found. Furthermore, in the midst of the small areas of dry tropical forest that are still preserved in Tatacoa, a new species for South America was found.

© Andrés Felipe Herrera Motta

There we found a new species for science, Centris celadonia, and it was a great discovery. We have verified that it is not only a place with enormous wealth, but that it still hides new species ”, points out Herrera Motta.

Unlike the common belief, most of the bees that inhabit Tatacoa do not live in colonies or are dedicated to the production of wax and honey. In fact, the superfamily is very diversified, among its species some are solitary, and others do not feed their larvae with pollen or nectar, but with prey.

There are many other bees in the world that don’t even live in colonies and don’t have a hierarchy with a queen. In total, 20,400 species are known in the world, of which 70% are solitary ”, the researcher reminds us.

Starting from a field work, as new species were found, the research has over time assumed global relevance, also obtaining the support of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, an institute dedicated to the study of the biological diversity of the tropics, which depends on by the Smithsonian Institution of education and research, based in the United States.

A surprising discovery that reminds us how important it is for biodiversity and to protect the planet our bees and their habitats.


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