Origins and implications of apid bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in French Polynesia.
Island plant-pollinator networks are typically simpler than their continental counterparts and this can make them less resilient to disturbance from exotic species. French Polynesia has a very low diversity of bees, but their status as either native or introduced species has been largely speculative. We combine previous studies with new DNA sequence data to show that 11 bee species have now been recorded for French Polynesia. Haplotype variation at the 'barcode' region of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) for four of these species, Ceratina dentipes Freise, Xylocopa sonorina Smith, Braunsapis puangensis (Cockerell) and Amegilla pulchra (Smith), indicates that they all represent very recent introductions. Apis mellifera Linnaeus was a purposefully introduced species, and four megachilid species probably arrived due to human-aided dispersal through maritime activities in the Pacific. The two remaining bee species, an unidentified partial specimen of a halictid bee and the colletid bee Hylaeus (P.) tuamotuensis Michener, are collectively known from only four specimens collected in the 1930s and their provenance is uncertain. French Polynesia therefore comprises a region where recently introduced bee species greatly overwhelm any possible native bee fauna. These introductions are likely to have major ecosystem impacts, including disruptions of existing plant-pollinator networks and facilitating the spread of weedy plant species, as well as positive impacts for agriculture. Future biosecurity initiatives need to consider these potential impacts and the likely routes of dispersal to effectively control any further unintended introductions.