CAPE VERDE SEES FIVE NEW SPECIES OF CUCKOO BEES
Biologists are continually interested with the biota of island archipelagos. Boasting 'evolutionary laboratories', these isolated areas are spawning biological diversity rapidly with short studies and observations. These isolated islands are quite often the destinations of new discoveries and even new species.
Research into the bee fauna of the islands by Dr. Jakub Straka of Charles University in Prague and Dr. Michael S. Engel of the University of Kansas proved that our current knowledge was outdated. The Open Access journal ZooKeys highlighted that the cuckoo bee fauna of the islands was in fact an entirely new species.
Like the common cuckoo birds, the cuckoo bees invade nests of other host bee species. The female cuckoo bees enter the host's nest and deposit eggs on the food resource all whilst the host is collecting pollen. This smart way of living sees the cuckoo bee egg hatching and the immature bees leaving the pollen and nectar reserves purely for itself.
Zebra-like in appearance, the Cape Verde cuckoos are mostly large. There is a smaller species, however, the Chiasmognathus batelkai which is relatively small being 3.2 - 4.2 mm in length. C. batelkai is the largest species of its genus which has been described as a case of island gigantism whereby a genetic drift may have lead to increased body size within isolated populations such as Cape Verde.
Researchers are now trying to explore the true origin and diversity of the cuckoo bees' hosts and attempting to understand their evolutionary diversification across the archipelago.