Jason Gibbs

Ph.D., York University
M.Sc., University of Toronto
B.Sc., University of Toronto
Email: dialictus@gmail.com


Research Interests

I am primarily interested in the taxonomy and phylogeny of bees. I am currently working on a taxonomic revision of Lasioglossum subgenus Dialictus in Canada and the Eastern United States. This group of bees is speciose and taxonomically challenging. There are over 600 described species worldwide and nearly half of these are in North America. They are notorious for being "morphologically monotonous" and next to impossible to identify to species.

I use an integrative approach that combines morphological studies with DNA barcoding. DNA barcodes are short DNA sequences from a standardized gene that can be used to identify species and to recognize cryptic species. This integrative approach has identified numerous new species in both Canada and the USA (e.g. Gibbs 2009a) that will be formally named and described. Dialictus also display an incredibly diverse array of social behaviours. Solitary, communal, semisocial, eusocial and socially parasitic species are known. Phylogenetic data suggests that reversals from eusocial to solitary behaviour have occurred in this group.

A manuscript in preparation demonstrates that social parasitism has arisen twice in eastern North America. At least two other origins of social parasitism are known for Dialictus sensu lato (Gibbs 2009b). Dialictus are also the most commonly collected bees in North America. In bee biodiversity studies, Dialictus are often the most abundant species. In some cases, over 50% of specimens collected are Dialictus. My research aims to provide identification methods for Dialictus. Our current inability to identify these bees places large limitations on our understanding of bee biodiversity, pollination biology and the evolution of social behaviour in bees.

DNA barcoding methods and technological advances in imaging equipment and internet resources should allow for the development of both molecular and morphological based identification methods.


  • Ngo HT, Gibbs J, Griswold T, Packer L. 2013. Evaluating bee (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) diversity using malaise traps in coffee landscapes of Costa Rica. The Canadian Entomologist, 145: 436-453. doi: 10.4039/tce.2013.16 Full text
  • Gibbs J, Packer L, Dumesh S, Danforth BN. 2013. Revision and reclassification of Lasioglossum (Evylaeus), L. (Hemihalictus) and L. (Sphecodogastra) in eastern North America (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Halictidae). Zootaxa, 3672: 1-117. doi: 10.11646/zootaxa.3672.1.1
  • Smith MA, Gibbs J, Packer L, Sheffield CS and 25 others. 2012. Wolbachia and DNA barcoding insects: patterns, potential, and problems. PLoS ONE, 7(5): e36514. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0036514 Full text
  • Gibbs J, Albert JR, Packer L. 2011. Dual origins of social parasitism in North American Dialictus (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) identified using a phylogenetic approach. Cladistics 28: 195-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1096-0031.2011.00373.x Full text
  • Gibbs J. 2010. Revision of the metallic species of Lasioglossum (Dialictus) of Canada (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Lasioglossum). Zootaxa 2591: 1-382.
  • Gibbs J. 2010. An aberrant bee of the species Lasioglossum (Dialictus) disparile (Cresson) with brief taxonomic notes on the species. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 83: 92-96. doi: 10.2317/JKES0806.16.1
  • Gardiner M, Tuell J, Isaacs R, Gibbs J, Ascher JS, Landis D. 2010. Implications of three model biofuel crops for beneficial arthropods in agricultural landscapes. BioEnergy Research 3: 6-19. doi: 10.1007/s12155-009-9065-7
  • Packer L, Sheffield CS, Gibbs J, de Silva N, Best LR, Ascher J, Ayala R, Martins D, Roberts SPM, Tadauchi O, Kuhlmann M, Williams PH, Eardley C, Droege S, Levchenko TV. 2009. The campaign to barcode the bees of the world: progress, problems, prognosis. In: C.L. Yurrita (Ed.) Memorias VI Congreso Mesoamericano sobre Abejas Nativas. Antigua, Guatemala, pp. 178-180.
  • Gibbs J. 2009c. New species in the Lasioglossum petrellum species group identified through an integrative taxonomic approach. The Canadian Entomologist 141: 371-396. doi: 10.4039/n09-020
  • Gibbs J, Ascher JS, and Packer L. 2009. Case 3476 Dialictus Robertson, 1902 and Evylaeus Robertson, 1902 (Insecta, Hymenoptera): proposed precedence over Hemihalictus Cockerell, 1897, Sudila Cameron, 1898 and Sphecodogastra, Ashmead, 1899. Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 66: 147-158. Full text
  • Gibbs J. 2009b. A new cleptoparasitic Lasioglossum (Hymenoptera, Halictidae) from Africa. Journal of Hymenoptera Research 18: 74-79.
  • Packer L, Gibbs J, Sheffield CS, Hanner R. 2009. DNA barcoding and the mediocrity of morphology. Molecular Ecology Resources, 9: 42-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2009.02631.x Full text
  • Gibbs J, Sheffield CS. 2009. Rapid range expansion of the wool-carder bee, Anthidium manicatum (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Megachilidae), in North America. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 82(1): 21-29. doi: 10.2317/JKES805.27.1
  • Gibbs J. 2009a. Integrative taxonomy identifies new (and old) species in the Lasioglossum (Dialictus) tegulare (Robertson) (Hymenoptera, Halictidae) species group. Zootaxa 2032: 1-38.
  • Packer L, Gibbs J, Sheffield CS, Kevan P. 2008. Barcoding the bees of the world. In: D. De Jong, T.M. Francoy, and W.C. Santana (Eds.) VIII Encontro sobre Abelhas. Ribeirão Preto: FUNPEC Editora, pp. 276-282.
  • Gibbs J. 2007. Integrative taxonomy of the bee subgenus Dialictus (Halictidae: Lasioglossum). Entomological Society of Ontario Newsletter 12: 6-8.
  • Gibbs J, Packer L. 2006. Revision and phylogenetic analysis of Chilicola sensu stricto (Hymenoptera: Colletidae) with the description of a new species. Zootaxa 1355:1-37. Full text

Favorite Recipe

Bee Bon Bons

[Xylocopa cells]


  • Xylocopa cells


  1. Open stem
  2. Remove Xylocopa larvae
  3. Slather with pollen mass
  4. Enjoy!

Funniest Research Story

Border Crossing

While crossing into Montana, Cory and I informed the customs official that we on a trip to collect bees. We were handed a card with a bright red "B5" on it (it may have been "BS") and told to go inside and wait. A burly man in a uniform questioned why two Canadians (read the last word with a hint of disdain) would need to collect bees in the US of A (read the last with a sense of pride). We were told we needed a letter from our supervisor, so we called Toronto and asked someone to tell Laurence to fax one (he was, of course, invigilating an exam).

After an hour or so, the fax came through from Laurence explaining our project and the need for fresh bees specimens for DNA barcoding. The burly man called on us again and asked us what we were transporting. "Bees" we said. "Anything else?" he inquired with a hint of suspicion.

"No" we replied (with visions of all the dead tiger beetles, velvet ants, syrphid flies, etc in the car flashing across my brain). We were asked to wait for the agricultural specialist. She repeated his two questions: "What are you transporting?". "Bees" we repeated. "Anything else?". Cory and I cast a sidelong glance at one another. "No ... ".

The agricultural specialist at this moment produced Laurence's letter, placed it on her desk, and with an accusing tone said "But it says here that you're bringing DNA!" ... A moment of awkward silence followed while Cory and I considered how to best explain the discoveries of Watson and Crick ...

[Laurence in a good mood]
Dr. Laurence Packer
Ph.D. (Toronto)
Professor of Biology
416-736-2100 ext. 22663
[Packer Collection @ York University]
[Biology Department @ York University]
Lumbers Building 345
York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3J1P3, Canada