Disappearing bumblebees possibly linked to climate

Disappearing bumblebees possibly linked to climate

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Many species of bumblebees are struggling to adapt to changing climate, and disappearing at a rapid rate.

According to research recently published in Science magazine, this is a major concern, as bumblebees and honeybees are the most frequent and efficient pollinators of a large number of agricultural crops that the human population depends on.

In order to understand how bees are being affected by global climate change, researchers gathered data consisting of around 423,000 observations of 67 bumblebee species in Europe and the United States, dating back as far as 1901.

The researchers used this information to map out the large scale changes in the territories that the bees lived in and the temperature ranges that they thrived in.

Researchers also looked at changes in land coverage and the use of pesticides, such as neonicotinoids, to see if that had any impact on the bees.

They concluded that there was not a huge correlation between the pesticide use and the diminishing bee population, as the diminishing population started before use of neonicotinoids became common.

What seemed to be most evident in the study, however, is that the geographical range of the bees is shrinking due to the changing climate.

"When you look at the northern edges of their ranges, or the coldest places that they used to inhabit, bumblebee species are not expanding into areas that have warmed up, but that used to be too cold for them," said Dr. Jeremy Kerr, lead author of the study and professor of biology at the University of Ottawa. "Most other species are doing that. If you look at the southern areas - the southern limits of their ranges - those are collapsing inward. Bumblebee species' ranges are effectively rolling up like a rug from the south."

Regardless of why climate is changing, there are plenty of scientific evidence that our climate is changing at a relatively fast pace, including bumblebees.

As this change has taken place, many plants and animals have either adapted to the changing climate or have expanded the range of their habitat to areas more suitable for their existence.

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