The goal of the checklist is to offer comprehensive information about the bee fauna of the western Palaearctic biogeographical region and includes synonyms and country level distribution data (see map). It covers a much wider geographical area than the Fauna Europaea list of bees which is largely outdated and represents a much more comprehensive review including work by leading experts (see list of contributors). The checklist aims to give some orientation to bee taxonomists and the users of bee taxonomic information like ecologists, pollination biologists or agricultural scientists. It will also act as a planning tool for barcoding the bees of this region.
The checklist is a compilation of data that is largely based on taxonomic and distributional data assembled for the "Discover Life bee species guide and world checklist (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila)" by John S. Ascher and John Pickering (http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?guide=Apoidea_species&flags=HAS:). It contains updated information from the latest publications with additions from bee taxonomists and experts for the bee fauna of certain countries (see list of contributors). Thus, the checklist reflects the current state of published information and, when expert knowledge has been included, the personal taxonomic views of the colleagues who contributed to it. However, the checklist is not meant to be an authoritative catalog for the included taxa and cannot replace a comprehensive taxonomic revision of the respective genera. This especially applies to genera that have not been recently revised or where no taxonomists were available for review.
The taxonomic status of a substantial number of species, including some from Western and Central Europe, remains uncertain. In these cases a short comment was included to highlight this fact. For some taxa (e.g. Eucerini, Bombus) only a selection of the most common synonyms are mentioned. This is due to limited availability of sufficiently reliable information about the identity and status of some taxa especially those in the older literature that might be nomina dubia.
The checklist project started in 2008 and it quickly became clear that taxonomic expertise is globally lacking for several genera and that this gap is like to grow quickly due to the rapidly aging community of bee taxonomists. The places most heavily affected by the loss of taxonomic knowledge are the “hotspots” of species diversity and endemism around the Mediterranean Sea, in Turkey and the Middle East. Unfortunately, these are the areas that are most likely to be heavily affected by climate and landscape change. For this reason presumably most of the predicted changes and losses of unique fauna will go unnoticed.
The bee species records presented here are likely to be incomplete, or sometimes even erroneous, especially for less well investigated areas in the southern and eastern parts of the western Palaearctic region. The checklist will be continuously updated so information about missing species (e.g. newly described species), erroneous or new records, changes in taxonomy and nomenclature or simply misspellings are very welcome and will be fully acknowledged. Please report these to:
Dr. Michael Kuhlmann
Department of Life Sciences
The Natural History Museum
London SW7 5BD, UK
Email: m.kuhlmann [at] nhm.ac.uk