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Australia’s abundant and diverse bee fauna plays a significant part in native terrestrial ecosystems. In several instances the long-term co-evolution between endemic bee and flowering plant species has yielded vulnerable mutual dependence between plant and pollinator. Conservation of bee species is of great importance, both because of their role in the ecosystem and because their diversity in social and mating structures provides unparalleled opportunities for broad evolutionary studies. Major threats to the Australian bee fauna are illustrated by examples, and include habitat deterioration and fragmentation, fire mismanagement and displacement by introduced bee species. Future studies should address the importance of native bees as pollinators, establish rates of extinction for important species and attempt to identify sources of decline using both correlative and experimental approaches.

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