Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 2079–2084 | Cite as

Morphometric and genetic differentiation in isolated populations of the endangered Mesoamerican stingless bee Melipona yucatanica (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) suggest the existence of a two species complex

  • William de Jesús May-Itzá
  • J. Javier G. Quezada-Euán
  • Luis A. Medina Medina
  • Eunice Enríquez
  • Pilar De la Rúa
Short Communication


The stingless bee Melipona yucatanica is a rare species only found in preserved forests across Mesoamerica. Morphometric and molecular analyses (DNA barcoding of the cytochrome oxidase (cox1) and microsatellites) were combined to characterize and compare populations from Mexico and Guatemala. We aim to test the hypothesis predicting that populations from these two geographic regions could be considered as distinct taxonomic units. Morphometric analyses revealed geographic differences, Guatemalan bees being larger than Mexican specimens. Bayesian analyses of the mitochondrial cox1 region and the microsatellite loci demonstrated that M. yucatanica form two clades corresponding to the Mexican and Guatemalan populations. These results suggest that M. yucatanica from Mexico and Guatemala could represent two distinct species. However, more studies are needed on their ecology and behavior to determine the possibility of gene flow between them.


Melipona yucatanica Morphometrics DNA barcode Microsatellite Conservation Mesoamerica 



We acknowledge to Irene Muñoz Gabaldón and Carlos Ruiz Carreira for their help during molecular analysis. This study has been financed by the Foundation BBVA, Conacyt-IFS and MUTUAL (Foncycit). W. de J. May-Itzá was supported by the Foundation SENECA.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • William de Jesús May-Itzá
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Javier G. Quezada-Euán
    • 1
  • Luis A. Medina Medina
    • 1
  • Eunice Enríquez
    • 3
  • Pilar De la Rúa
    • 2
  1. 1.Departamento de Apicultura, Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria y ZootecniaUniversidad Autónoma de YucatánMéridaMéxico
  2. 2.Área de Biología Animal, Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de VeterinariaUniversidad de MurciaMurciaEspaña
  3. 3.Laboratorio de Entomología Aplicada y Parasitología, Fac. FarmaciaUniversidad de San Carlos de GuatemalaSan CarlosGuatemala

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