Bumblebees are in drastic decline across Europe and North America owing to hotter and more frequent extremes in temperatures, scientists say.

A study suggests the likelihood of a bumblebee population surviving in any given place has declined by 30%

in the course of a single human generation. The researchers say the rates of decline appear to be

“consistent with a mass extinction”. Peter Soroye, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa and the

study’s lead author, said: “We found that populations were disappearing in areas where the temperatures

had gotten hotter.  If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish forever within

a few decades.” The team used data collected over a 115-year period on 66 bumblebee species across

North America and Europe to develop a model simulating “climate chaos” scenarios. They were able to

see how bumblebee populations had changed over the years by comparing where the insects were

now to where they used to be. Bumblebees play a key role in pollinating crops such as tomatoes, squash

and berries. The researchers say their methods could be used to predict extinction risk and identify areas

where conservation actions are needed. Dr Tim Newbold, of University College London’s Centre for

Biodiversity & Environment Research, said: “We were surprised by how much climate change has already

caused bumblebee declines. Our findings suggest that much larger declines are likely if climate change

accelerates in the coming years, showing that we need substantial efforts to reduce climate change if

we are to preserve bumblebee diversity.”

Guardian Press

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