This project—the first to focus on species-level diversity of bees in Taiwan—is a collaboration between a government research institute, university scientists, technicians and students aimed at mobilizing data on Taiwan’s bees with the following objectives:
- Photograph all species (including key characteristics)
- Digitize data from bee specimens in collections from all seven of Taiwan's museums
- Barcode all species
- Collect in areas that have been historically undersampled, including the eastern mountains and surrounding islands
Understanding this vulnerable group of insects is essential for regional conservation. This project will establish framework for future studies in Taiwan and increase both public awareness and the network of researchers working on bees. The aim is to provide the most comprehensive view of Taiwan’s bee fauna to date.
The project will publish their findings through GBIF and via an annotated open-source checklist in both Chinese and English. Long-term goals (beyond the scope of this grant) include increasing knowledge and interest in bees through the publication of a local field guide and workshops on bee identification.
Short-term tasks will include photographing, digitizing, barcoding, and filling regional gaps and publishing the resulting records to GBIF, GenBank and BOLD and in peer-reviewed journals. While adding data to GBIF from museum records will provide firm estimates on the diversity and status of bees in Taiwan by the project's end, the team will measure its long-term success through increased interest and expertise in bees, international collaborations, species descriptions and use of the data in research and policy.
During the first half the project implementation period, the project has combined digitized sources and the literature to form a species level checklist of Taiwan bee fauna and validated all the names. It has also started to add Chinese names for the species, as well as photographing and barcoding species.
In the course of the work the project has discovered from collections new records and even new species. A notable new record is that of Trachusa longicornis aff., part of a species complex and in a genus that only one species was previously known of in Taiwan. The project aims to use DNA barcoding to determine if this one found in Taiwan is a new species.
By midterm reporting the project has published to GBIF 1,232 digitized specimens from the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute bee collection, which is more than originally expected. A project member has also received an advance badge for participation in the biodiversity data mobilization course and attended a GIS course which will help in creating species maps once fauna is digitized.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the project has encountered delays to its implementation timeline, such as accessing data. The project has been able to adapt its structure of activities however to allow the project to keep progressing, and continues to monitor and evaluate the situation.