A new study on European and American bumblebee populations shows that the tiny insects are literally losing ground to global warming. According to the findings, bumblebees had to abandon 185 miles or 300 km of the southern regions that they traditionally used to inhabit on both continents.
The change occurred between 1901 and 2010, researchers noted. Scientists also said that they found no pesticide traces or loss of habitat that may have explained the phenomenon. Instead, rising temperatures may be the only thing to blame especially after the 1970s where the phenomenon got out of control, researchers wrote in their paper.
What’s more tragic is that bumblebees failed to accommodate to cooler climates in the northern areas of their ranges. The study involved 67 species of bumblebees that were tracked for more than 100 years.
Jeremy Kerr at the University of Ottawa explained that the populations located in the southern parts are eventually lost, while the rest of the animals get “stuck” at the northern limits of their ranges.
“Bumblebees are declining incredibly fast and the fingerprints of human-caused climate change are all over these changes,”
Mr. Kerr argued.
He also said that his team was surprised to learn that the changes in bumblebee populations were happening at the same pace on both continents. Researchers added that a steep decline in bumblebee populations may soon trigger economic decline as some crops may no longer be “viable.”
Researchers published a paper on their findings in the journal Science.
Wild bumblebees are doing most of the pollination job, especially when it comes to apples, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins, and blueberries. And if there are no bumblebees to pollinate crops, the food production levels may decline and food costs could rise leading to economic decline and social instability.
Sadly, wild bumblebees can’t or won’t adapt to new environments created by rising temperatures in the northern parts outside their ranges although global warming made their southern habitat hotter than they can take.
Mr. Kerr suggested that governments should issue “assisted migration” programs which would relocate bee populations in mass to new areas where they may continue their pollination work. The researcher compared the loss of bumblebee populations with playing with “a life-support” we cannot live without. He added that it was best for this “experiment” to never have existed.
A study published in June in Nature Communications showed that only 2 percent of wild bee species were doing 80 percent of the pollination work these bees do. And among those two species were also mentioned the wild bumblebees.
Image Source: Earth Share