100 Species of Meliponines (Apidae: Meliponini) in a Parcel of Western Amazonian Forest at Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, Ecuador

  • David W. RoubikEmail author


Meliponines are noteworthy because they forage all year, recruit nestmates to resources, and store honey and pollen. Their systematic collection, in lowland UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Yasuní, helps set the pace for biodiversity research. Near the Scientific Station maintained by the Pontifical Catholic University there, 24 genera and > 100 species, >40% new to science, may occur. Detecting this peak world richness was aided by the collection of tiny sweat-seeking species and those baited to honeywater. In such hyperdiverse forest containing >3000 tree and 500 liana species alone, many pollinating and pollen-consuming bees can be maintained. When each bee species uses 40 pollen species, some 672 plant species support the meliponines—with calculations applying the “80/20” or “Pareto principle.” Definitive pollination work requires field tests, particularly for unisexual plant species and tiny Meliponini. Common names for meliponines, in the Waorani language, are compiled. SEM illustrations of the local genera are given as follows: Aparatrigona, Celetrigona, Cephalotrigona, Dolichotrigona, Duckeola, Frieseomelitta, Geotrigona, Lestrimelitta, Leurotrigona, Melipona, Nannotrigona, Nogueirapis, Oxytrigona, Paratrigona, Partamona, Plebeia, Ptilotrigona, Scaptotrigona, Scaura, Schwarzula, Tetragona, Tetragonisca, Trigona, and Trigonisca. Morphology indicates biology for obligate necrophages and cleptoparasites which lack corbiculae. Several genera of small bees have long hairs on the antennal scape, which may aid in pollen collection, and pollen thieves or robbers have pointed and large mandibular teeth while others have enlarged basitarsi to gather pollen, and they do not ordinarily pollinate.



The SEM work of Jorge Ceballos, STRI, is gratefully acknowledged. Collection data and curation at QCAZ, PUCE, Ecuador, are appreciated, as is taxonomic help from S. R. M. Pedro and J. S. Ascher, and the field assistance of E. Baus, I. Tapia, and G. Onore. Any identification or other lapsus remains due to the author.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteAncónRepublic of Panama

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