Still from video shared by EAD showing one of the discovered species Image Credit: X/@ADMediaOffice

Abu Dhabi: The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has discovered eight new species of invertebrates in four reserves located in different areas in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

All the newly discovered species belong to the same family of wasps (Hymenoptera: Spheciformes: Crabronidae) are known as Digger Wasps. The new species were discovered in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Al Bida Protected Area, Barqa Saqoor Protected Area and Houbara Protected Area, all of which are part of EAD’s Sheikh Zayed Network of Protected Areas affiliated with the Environment Agency.

‘Biodiversity hotspot’

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General, EAD, said: “We are extremely proud to announce that we have discovered eight invertebrate species new to science in Abu Dhabi. This confirms that the emirate is a biodiversity hotspot that is home to several species not found in any other part of the world. It is also a sign of our commitment to research – one of our main strategic priorities – and the reason why we were able to make this discovery. We look forward to sharing our expertise with partners all across the globe on our scientific methods as well as detailed information about our new species.”

She added: “The fact that these species were discovered within our protected areas is a testament to the fact that it is vital to always ensure that biodiversity is protected and taken care of, allowing all types of species to thrive in their natural habitats.”

Paralysing prey

Digger wasps are solitary wasps and females make a nest for their young. In the nest, the females will lay eggs on paralysed insects so when the young wasp larvae hatch, they have fresh food available. After feeding on the prey the larvae will pupate and eventually emerge from the nest as adult wasps. These adult wasps will then look for a mate and if the wasp is a female, it will begin to prepare and provide a nest for its own eggs.

How they were discovered

The agency’s scientists used Malaise Traps which is a net-like structure mounted on a metal frame. This helps to catch flying insects and funnel them into a bottle with a preservative solution. Insects collected are sorted by EAD scientists and, in collaboration with international entomological experts, the long process of taxonomic research and publication is undertaken to describe a species new to science.

EAD has an extensive collection of invertebrates, and all specimens and discoveries are meticulously maintained in a database which will soon be available online for use by scientists, naturalists and even the general public, showcasing Abu Dhabi’s invertebrate diversity.