Climate change may drastically reshape bees, affect pollination
Research reveals that climate-driven changes to pollinators could have cascading effects on pollination and ecosystem functioning.
Research published on Wednesday showed that changing climate conditions could result in small-bodied bees and fewer bumblebees and affect plant pollination, The Guardian reported.
"Scientists in the US trapped and studied more than 20,000 bees over eight years in an area of the Rocky Mountains to find out how different types reacted to changing climatic conditions," the newspaper website said.
Published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the authors of the research explained that the sub-alpine region - from which they took their bee samples - was “particularly vulnerable to climate change."
Climate-induced changes drastically reshape bees
According to The Guardian, the scientists "found that larger-bodied bees and comb-building cavity nesters declined in abundance as temperatures increased, while smaller, soil-nesting bees increased."
The authors pointed out that “our research suggests that climate-induced changes in temperature, snowpack and summer precipitation may drastically reshape bee communities."
The researchers indicated that the findings revealed "a reduction of bigger bees, including in the families of bumblebee, leafcutters and mason bees, with higher temperatures."
Bumblebees are more threatened by climate warming
It was also suggested that bumblebees are "more threatened under climate warming than other bees in our system."
The authors warned that climate-driven changes to pollinators “could have cascading effects on pollination and ecosystem functioning," as losing bigger bees that fly longer distances seeking food means a reduction in longer-distance pollination.
Although the study focused on mountainous areas, other research across the US showed declines in bigger bees as a result of environmental changes, the researchers noted.
World’s top pollinators
According to The Guardian, insects are the world’s top pollinators, where "75% of 115 top global food crops depend on animal pollination, including cocoa, coffee, almonds, and cherries."
In a 2019 report, scientists warned that "nearly half of all insect species worldwide are in decline and a third could disappear altogether by the century’s end. One in six species of bees has gone regionally extinct somewhere in the world," the website highlighted.
Habitat loss and pesticide use are thought to be the main drivers of bee extinction.