Missing for almost 100 years: the rare and potentially threatened bee, pharohylaeus lactiferus (Hymenoptera, Colletidae)

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The Australian endemic bee, Pharohylaeus lactiferus (Colletidae: Hylaeinae) is a rare species that requires conservation assessment. Prior to this study, the last published record of this bee species was from 1923 in Queensland, and nothing was known of its biology. Hence, I aimed to locate extant populations, provide biological information and undertake exploratory analyses relevant to its assessment. Pharohylaeus lactiferus was recently rediscovered as a result of extensive sampling of 225 general and 20 targeted sampling sites across New South Wales and Queensland. Collections indicate possible floral and habitat specialisation with specimens only found near Tropical or Sub-Tropical Rainforest and only visiting Stenocarpus sinuatus (Proteaceae) and Brachychiton acerifolius (Malvaceae), to the exclusion of other available floral resources. Three populations were found by sampling bees visiting these plant species along much of the Australian east coast, suggesting population isolation. GIS analyses used to explore habitat destruction in the Wet Tropics and Central Mackay Coast bioregions indicate susceptibility of Queensland rainforests and P. lactiferus populations to bushfires, particularly in the context of a fragmented landscape. Highly fragmented habitat and potential host specialisation might explain the rarity of P. lactiferus. Targeted sampling and demographic analyses are likely required to thoroughly assess the status of this species and others like it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-180
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2021


  • Conservation
  • Extinction risk
  • Fragmentation
  • Hylaeinae
  • Invertebrate conservation
  • Queensland
  • Rainforest
  • Wildfire


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