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Climate change negatively impacting bumblebees, study finds


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Temperature changes over the past 120 years have negatively impacted most species of bumblebees, according to new research published this week in Biology Letters† The researchers note that changes in temperature had a more negative impact than other factors, such as precipitation or flowers.

“Bumblebees are important pollinators for wild plants and the crops that humans depend on for food, so we need to develop conservation strategies that take into account the future effects of climate change on bee populations,” said study leader Hanna Jackson, a master’s student at M’Gonigle. Lab in Biological Sciences at Simon Fraser University.

Jackson and her colleagues analyzed an existing dataset containing data on 46 bumblebee species in North America between 1900 and 2020. They created two occupancy models — one focused on time and the other on environmental factors — to evaluate the effects of climate and land use variables on the occupancy rate of to estimate species, a measure of where species are found. They found that six bumblebee species declined over time, 22 increased, and the remaining 18 were stable.

They note that temperature and precipitation both increased on average between 1900 and 2020 in the post-industrial revolution period. Temperature changes mainly had negative effects on bumblebees, with 37 of the 46 species showing a greater decrease or less positive increase in stocking density with observed temperature changes compared to when the temperature had remained constant.

Importantly, nine species of bumblebees showed declines related to changing temperatures within their range. The team found no patterns in the other factors studied, such as precipitation, and only one species declined based on floral sources.

In fact, both floral sources and precipitation had mixed results. About half of the bumblebee species were negatively affected by changes in precipitation or flowers, while the other half were positively affected.

Therefore, researchers conclude that changing temperatures are an important environmental factor driving changes in the composition of the bumblebee community.

“Because bumblebee species are likely to differ in their future responses to land use and climate change, conservation actions should prioritize individual species, taking into account their unique climate and habitat preferences,” Jackson added.

Research contributors include the US-based Pollinator Partnership, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Southern California.

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More information:
Hanna M. Jackson et al, Climate change winners and losers among North American bumblebees, Biology Letters (2022). DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2021.0551

Provided by Simon Fraser University

Quote: Climate change negatively impacts bumblebees, study finds (2022, June 24) retrieved June 24, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-06-climate-negative-impacting-bumblebees.html

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