According to a recent study, climate change is destroying the bumblebee population. Bumblebees are wild bees that are extremely important pollinators of crops and wild flowers. If these fuzzy insects disappear completely, the world’s crops will be affected deeply.
Scientists say that bumblebees and wild bees have been under close observation for the past 100 years in North America and Europe. Jeremy Kerr, a biologist at the University of Ottawa, said he wanted to observe the bumblebees himself and determine their current status. Kerr said that there are many species of bumblebees in North America and more than 423,000 specimens are being observed in the wild. The researcher added that the bumblebee observations are extremely detailed and scientists know everything about a particular specimen.
Kerr and his team studied where each bumblebee species was discovered long time ago, compared to more recent years. The scientists were actually looking to see the damage caused by the effects of climate change, and what they found alarmed them. The researchers found that many species of bumblebees that used to live in the warmest regions have now disappeared. Kerr said they have no evidence that could tell them if the bumblebees left their natural habitat due to pesticide use or land clearing.
The researchers wrote about what they found in a study published in the journal Science.
Lawrence Harder, a scientist from the University of Calgary, said he has been studying bumblebees for more than 35 years and what the researchers found is completely true, considering the way a bumblebee reacts. Harder explains that bumblebees are quite large and furry insects, which makes it easier for them to survive and thrive in colder environments. However, their biggest problem is heat. They cannot survive in too warm an environment, Harder added.
Kerr said that his most striking find occurred at the colder edge of the bumblebees’ range. According to Kerr and his colleagues, many insects there, including butterflies, are moving toward colder regions due to climate change. Bumblebees, on the other hand, are not moving. The scientists wrote in their paper that the bumblebees seemed stuck and don’t seem to be moving north like other species are doing.
Harder believes he has figured out why bumblebees are not moving. He says that bumblebees are limited in North by boundaries of vegetation more than by cold temperatures. According to Harder, many species of bumblebees prefer open grassland and will not move North towards the forests in Canada, regardless of how warm it will get.
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