Bumblebees, among other types of bees, are an important part of the environment. One of the most significant purposes they serve is pollination, the act of transferring pollen from one plant to another. The population of bumblebees is declining, and the reasons apart from climate change are changes in land use and agricultural intensification.
A new study conducted by a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology studied 47 species of bumblebees. Bumblebees are one of the several insects that act as wild pollinators. In Europe alone, the researchers determined, the pollination system afforded by the behaviour of these bees could be worth billions of euros. Climate change, changes in land use, and intensive agriculture could all be leading to changes in dispersion areas of these bees.
“Earlier studies revealed that populations of more than half of the European bumblebee species are decreasing,” said Dr. Reinhard Prestele from the Atmospheric Environmental Research Department of the Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK-IFU), KIT. “But bumblebee populations are not only threatened by climate, but also by land-use changes.”
The team calculated seven potential land use and climate change scenarios for the years 2050 and 2080. They figured out that while climate change had the ‘strongest total effect’, rare species of bumblebees were affected equally by changes in land use. Unchecked or excessive use of pesticides and fertilisers also play an important role in habitat loss for colonies.
The team finds hope in smart land management paired with climate protection. Even if climate protection yields moderate results, dedicated refuge areas for the species along with a wider shift towards organic farming could hold the answers. Successful implementation of such measures may also help wild bees, wasps, and other pollinators.
The results of this study have been published in Global Change Biology.
I am a simple writer who wishes to use her skill to create more awareness about the planet that offers us life.