Published On: Fri, Jul 10th, 2015

New study blames bumblebee deaths on global warming

Bumblebees are vanishing across large regions of North America and Europe and a new study says global warming is to blame.

Science published Thursday an article stating that while habitat destruction and potent pesticides known as neonicotinoids have destroyed some bumblebee populations, researchers concluded climate change has played the greatest role in the mass disappearance of bumblebee species.

“This is a huge loss and it has happened very quickly,” study author Jeremy Kerr, a biology professor at the University of Ottawa, said in a call with reporters. “These species are at serious and immediate risk from rapid, human-induced climate change.”

While warming temperatures have allowed some plant and animal habitats to expand, bumblebees’ range has dramatically narrowed, according the study which also stated that 75 percent of the earth’s “familiar” animal species – those commonly thought of and well understood by human beings, such as tigers and elephants – will vanish within three human lifetimes in a “sixth mass extinction” driven in part by climate change.

“These are very clear and striking trends,” bumblebee study co-author Paul Galpern, a landscape ecologist and assistant professor at the University of Calgary, said during the call.

photo Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel via Flickr

photo Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel via Flickr

Other insect species, such as butterflies, which evolved in tropical climates, possess the “biochemical machinery” to more easily migrate and adapt to warmer temperatures, co-author Alana Pindar, of York University in Toronto, described.

Bumblebees emerged in cool to temperate environments; therefore, have failed to expand to cooler temperatures farther north, even as their numbers have collapsed amid more extreme heat. Instead, they’ve retracted from the south at a pace as fast as 9 kilometers a year, the study found.

Bumblebees started vanishing even before farmers began employing neonicotinoids, the researchers said.

Of the 111 bumblebee species in North America and Europe, between a quarter and a third are at risk of extinction, Kerr tells U.S. News.

“We are not seeing bumblebees kind of effectively fleeing to the north and consequently becoming more dense in northern areas,” he said during the call. “We are simply losing the southern populations.”

“The details of the variation in these responses are important because they can provide substantial insight to which species might face even greater challenges in the face of a warming world than others,” Sacha Vignieri, an associate editor at Science, said. .


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- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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