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Biogeographic connections between the neotropical and nearctic regions inferred from the history of leaf-cutting bees (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae)

Grant number: 24/00887-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Master's degree
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2024
Effective date (End): January 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Taxonomy of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Eduardo Andrade Botelho de Almeida
Grantee:Diego Alexander Guevara Farías
Supervisor: Sean Gary Brady
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil
Research place: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:22/15636-7 - Systematics of the Pseudocentron-group of Megachile (Megachilidae: Megachilini) and relevance to the biogeography of neotropical bees, BP.MS


Megachile is the genus with the largest number of species in the bee family Megachilidae (approximately 1,500 species worldwide), and it is an essential pollinator in crops and wild plants. Although recent studies have improved our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships between groups and species, there has been insufficient phylogenetic work on the most diverse and important group of subgenera in the New World: The Pseudocentron-group of Megachile. This group of taxa comprises more than 150 species distributed between the Neotropical and the Nearctic regions, and it is the most abundant group of leaf-cutting bees in most regions of Brazil. This proposal aims to investigate the phylogenetic and biogeographic relationships among different lineages in the Nearctic and Neotropical Regions found within various subgenera of this group. To achieve this objective, the type and taxonomic reference material deposited in the two of the most important collections for the group will be studied: Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of Natural History (USNM) and the insect collections of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (ANSP). Dr. Seán G. Brady (USNM) will act as the supervisor abroad. Dr. Brady is a leading researcher in bee systematics and biogeography of bees, ants, and stinging wasps. A morphological data matrix will be constructed for the Pseudocentron-group of Megachile, allowing a broad interpretation of the phylogenetic relationships of the taxa of interest. Access to these insect collections will have twofold importance for the research: (a) access to a comprehensive sample of Nearctic taxa largely unavailable in Brazilian institutions; (b) access to type-material of several species of Megachile that will prove essential to provide taxonomic stability to the conclusions of the research. The resulting data matrix will also be integrated with a molecular dataset in the first combined-evidence analysis proposed for the group with a dense enough sampling that will potentially clarify the biogeographic connections between the Neotropical and the Nearctic faunas of leaf-cutting bees.

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