Bumblebees being crushed by climate change

Cally Carswell, ScienceMag.org

As the climate changes, plants and animals are on the move. So far, many are redistributing in a similar pattern: As habitat that was once too cold warms up, species are expanding their ranges toward the poles, whereas boundaries closer to the equator have remained more static.

Bumblebees, however, appear to be a disturbing exception, according to a study in Science today. A comprehensive look at dozens of species, it finds that many North American and European bumblebees are failing to “track” warming by colonizing new habitats north of their historic range. Simultaneously, they are disappearing from the southern portions of their range.

“Climate change is crushing [bumblebee] species in a vice,” says ecologist Jeremy Kerr of the University of Ottawa in Canada, the study’s lead author. The findings underscore the importance of conserving the habitat the insects currently persist in, says Rich Hatfield, a biologist with the Xerces Society for Insect Conservation in Portland, Oregon, who was not involved in the study. Where bumblebees vanish, the wild plants and crops they pollinate could also suffer.

Read more at ScienceMag.org.