Ceratina nigrolateralis (Cockerell 1916)
(Hymenoptera: Apidae: Ceratinini)
Figure 1. Ceratina nigrolateralis on Melastoma malabathricum. Image courtesy of © Zestin Soh.
Figure 2. Size comparison, from left to right, Xylocopa latipes (the largest bee in Singapore), Apis cerana (the eastern honey bee) and Ceratina nigrolateralis. Adapted Xylocopa latipes and Apis cerana images courtesy of © S. X. Chui, Ceratina nigrolateralis © 2016 K. Chang.
The Xylocopinae subfamily of Apidae constitutes bees with diverse sizes and appearances. From the large carpenter bees of the genus Xylocopa from the tribe Xylocopini to the small carpenter bees of the related genus Ceratina. Ceratina, however, are much smaller and more slender, coming to no more than 8mm in length in comparison to Xylocopa which can grow to more than 20mm in length (Figure 2).
Figure 3. Left: Ceratina nigrolateralis from the Ceratinidia subgenus © 2016 K. Chang and Right: Ceratina smaragdula from the Pithis subgenus. Adapted from image courtesy of © S. X. Chui
Though members of the genus are usually associated with metallic blue and green coloration, various subgenera, such as Ceratinidia, are characterized by strong black and yellow colors. Ceratina nigrolateralis is a member of the Ceratinidia subgenus which is easily differentiated from other common subgenera, generally, by their extensive yellow markings (Figure 3).
Figure 4. Identifying characteristics of C. nigrolateralis © 2016 K. Chang. (i) scutum (ii) scutellum (iii) T1 tergite (iv) scape (v) space between eyes (vi) clypeus (vii) angular projection of coxa (viii) midleg
At a deeper level, C. nigrolateralis can be recognized via the pattern and density of punctuation on the scutum (Figure 4i) and between the eyes (Figure 4v). Distinctive yellow markings are observable on the scutellum (Figure 4ii) and clypeus (Figure 4vi). The antennal scape are dark or black (Figure 4iv) and the T1 tergite has a reduced yellow marking compared to other species that forms a spot in the center (Figure 4iii). C. nigrolateralis also has a strong lateral angular projection of the front coxa (Figure 4vii) and a distinctly colored midleg (Figure 4viii)3 4 . Due to the approximately 7mm size of C. nigrolateralis, a microscope or magnifying glass may be required to view certain characteristics.
Figure 5. Ceratina nests in the collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, USA. © 2017 K. Chang
Figure 6. Drawing of C. nigrolateralis nest structure, adapted from Rehan et al., 20095
Pollination and Agriculture
Video: Ceratina foraging on long-bracted spiderwort. Source: Youtube
Ceratina are generalist pollinators which visit a diversity of plants and crops (polylectic), carrying their pollen on their hind legs (see Figure 1). As they nest within dry stems and twigs and thrive on flowers near nests sites, they have been demonstrated to have potential for domestication6
and have been shown to successfully increase crop yield8
. Due to the benefits of using native species as crop pollinators, they have potential agricultural significance.
Figure 7. Sennertia americana adapted from image licensed through Creative Commons from Bee-associated Mites of the World
Mites within the Sennertia genus (Acari: Chaetodactylidae) have been associated with Xylocopinae for an extended period10 11 . It was suggested that the cleptoparasites kill young bees in brood cells and feed on pollen provisions12 . This has been debated, with other authors bringing forth the possibility that the mites do not kill the brood as they develop within the cells13 . Warrit (2007)6 confirmed the observation of Sennertia mites on Ceratinidia specimens.
The species has been found in almost every different habitat available in Singapore, from the managed greenery within the urban National University of Singapore (NUS) campus to the Central Catchment nature reserve (CCNR). Records have been made in almost every nature and community park in Singapore and from scrubs near urban landscapes. Specimens have even been collected from among the Jurong subcoastal scrubs4 .
Figure 8. C. nigrolateralis global distribution map © 2017 K. Chang
C. nigrolateralis is distributed throughout Southeast Asia (Figure 8). Records of species and subspecies have been found from Taiwan to Bali, Indonesia.
Taxonomy and Phylogeny
Taxon description and revisions
Figure 9. Original description of C. nigrolateralis 14
The species was originally described by Cockerell, in 191614
, as a subspecies of Ceratina philippinensis, Ceratina philippinensis nigrolateralis (Figure 9). The female holotype is located within the British Museum of Natural History. Van der Vecht15
, who was the first to review Southeast Asian Ceratina, redescribed Ceratina nigrolaterallis as a species and proceeded to provide a key to various subspecies3
. Following this, the species has had at least three major synonyms, Ceratina acuticauda16
, Ceratina incerta17
and Ceratina corbetti18
Warrit et al. (2007)6 revised the subgenus Ceratinidia in his dissertation and in 2012, treated most Southeast Asian species in a revision of Thai Ceratinidia3 . Shiokawa (2015)19 later revised the compacta species group of Ceratinidia. At present, C. nigrolateralis has 6 recognized subspecies, of which Ceratina nigrolateralis incerta is the form with a type locality in Singapore and is the subspecies inferred in this page4 .
The use of integrated taxonomy, the combination of both genetic and morphological data to sort out species relationships has become increasingly applied and important. A barcoding project using 313bp of COI was conducted on morphologically identified Singaporean and Southeast Asian Ceratina species. Although a 3-4% difference is usually expected between species, up to 11.9% pairwise differences could be observed between species of Ceratina, which is very large even with species from different subgenera, while at a subspecies level, Ceratina nigrolateralis incerta and Ceratina nigrolateralis corbetti were found to have identical barcodes while Ceratina nigrolateralis incerta and Ceratina nigrolateralis acuticauda were 6.4% different. The use of both morphology and genitalia are therefore still very relevant, in addition to DNA, as tools in the delimiting of species.
Figure 10. Consensus phylogram from Bayesian Inference (BI) analysis with prosterior probability support indicated for all nodes. Adapted from Rehan et al., 201020 . Subgenera are shown on the right and the red box highlights the Ceratinidia subgenus with C. nigrolateralis highlighted. Nodes with less than 75% support are highlighted in yellow.
The Bayesian inference consensus (figure 10) has a generally high branch support. The authors relied on this tree for the recovering of phylogenies, the data was partitioned into 6 parts and run in MrBayes. The tree shows the highest support at the subgenus level but may be less resolved otherwise. Within subgenera, strong support is generally observed with the exception of a few nodes within Neoceratina, Ctenoceratina, Zandontomerus, Ceratinula and Ceratinidia. However, between subgenera, support can drop lower, as seen from supports as low as 54% between Megaceratina and other Ceratina clades, 48% between Zandontomerus and Calloceratina and 42%, which is observed between Copoceratina and Ceratina. In addiition, the authors also had a Maximum Parsimony bootstrap consensus tree (that was not used to recover phylogeny), with bootstrap supports at similar nodes showing percentage supports that were as low as 10%. A possible reason for the lack of certainty could be a result of the low number of genes used to generate the tree, only two mitochondrial genes, COI and Cytb were used in addition to one nuclear gene, EF1alpha. The authors found that there were higher rates of cladogenesis closer to the origin of each tribe which corresponded to major dispersal events that lead to the extant subgenera20
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This page was authored by Kristy Chang
Last curated in 2017