Abstract

The orchid bees are a very important group of pollinators distributed in the Neotropics. Although a lot of studies concerning male euglossine bees have been done in this region, few works have so far been carried out in the Cerrado biome. This manuscript has the main objective to present the orchid bee community from a Gallery Forest in the Northeastern Brazilian Cerrado landscape, taking account the species composition, abun- dance, seasonality and hourly distribution. Male euglossine bees were collected monthly from October 2007 to May 2009, in the Reserva Florestal da Itamacaoca belonging to the Companhia de Água e Esgoto do Maranhão, in Chapadinha municipality, Maranhão State. The scents eucalyptol, eugenol and vanillin were utilized, between 07:00 and 17:00hr, to attract the euglossine males. Cotton balls were dampened with the scents and suspended by a string on tree branches 1.5m above soil level, set 8m from one another. The specimens were captured with entomological nets, killed with ethyl acetate and transported to the laboratory to be identified. A total of 158 individuals and 14 species of bees were recorded. The genus Eulaema was the most representative group of euglossine bees in relation to the total number of the sampled individuals, accounting for 50.6% of bees followed by Euglossa (26.6%), Eufriesea (15.2%) and Exaerete (7.6%). The most frequent species were Eulaema nigrita (27.8%), Eulaema cingulata (19%) and Euglossa cordata (18.3%). Many species typical of forested environments were found in samples, like Euglossa avicula, Euglossa violaceifrons and Eulaema meriana, emphasizing the role played by the Gallery Forests as bridge sites to connect the two great biomes of Amazonia and Atlantic Forest. The occurrence of Exaerete guaykuru represents the second record of this species for the Neotropical region, and both records coming from the Gallery Forest zones. The male euglossine bees were sampled mainly in the dry season, where 62.5% of the individuals were collected in that period. Eufriesea species appeared at the baits only in the wet season. The hourly frequency of bees at scent baits showed a clear preference for the morning period, where 87.9% visited the baits from 07:00 to 12:00hr. The euglossine bee fauna found in the Northeastern Maranhão Cerrado is represented chiefly by species of large geographic distribution and by some forest bee species, where their occurrence is maybe related to to the environmental conditions supported by the Gallery Forest ecosystem.
Keywords: diversity, euglossini, exaerete guaykuru, cerrado, scent bait