Climate change is killing bumblebees in Europe and the United States
Winters are getting warmer, ocean temperatures are rising and now bumblebees are dying. This is the result of a new study that found that one of the most efficient pollinators in the world is threatened with extinction due to climate change.
Researchers from the University of Ottawa examined 66 species of bumblebee in North America and Europe and found that rising temperatures and rainfall also increase the extinction risk of the species. According to the researchers, the probability that a bumblebee population survives in a single place has decreased by an average of 30% within a human generation.
Peter Soroye, a doctoral student from Ottawa and one of the authors of the study, tweeted about the research results and said: “In 25 years, the likelihood of finding a bumblebee has decreased by an average of 46% in North America and by 17% in Europe.”
The team also found that climate change affects bees' chances of settling in new areas. They discovered that the greatest decline in the bumblebee population occurred where “climate change pushed species beyond what they had to tolerate before”. These areas are shown in dark red dots on a data map that does not contain population data based on habitat loss and pesticides.
The decline in bumblebee populations could also pose problems for agriculture. Bumblebees are vital to the world's ecosystem and are known to pollinate wildflowers and nightshades like tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and blueberries. They are able to endure cooler weather that other important pollinators like honeybees cannot effectively withstand.
Despite the grim results, Soroye said her research can help plan for a better future for different species.
“We have seen many places where things are going badly, but we have also seen some” bright spots “where things are going well despite climate change. If we focus on these places, we may be able to draw conclusions that we can use to stop the decline elsewhere, ”he wrote.
The full report was published in the journal Science.
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