Bumblebees, the world’s most important pollinators, are going extinct due to extreme temperatures. The latest study has revealed that the mass extinction of bumblebees is putting ecosystems at risk. The research was carried out by a group of scientists at the University of Ottawa in Canada. They observed half a million records showing where bumblebees have been found since 1901, across 66 different cities. They found the insects in North America have decreased by nearly 50 percent. Mexico is one of the places where bumblebees once lived in abundance but have declined rapidly.
“We have now entered the world’s sixth mass extinction event, the biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended the age of the dinosaurs,” first author Peter Soroye said.
“We’ve known for a while that climate change is related to the growing extinction risk that animals are facing around the world … so, to stop this, we needed to develop tools that tell us where and why these extinctions will occur.”
They very carefully observed how climate change increases the frequency of extreme weather events such as heatwaves and droughts. The scientists described the change as “climate chaos” and said it could be dangerous for animals.
The researchers published their findings in a new paper published this week in the journal Science. They examined 66 bumblebee species across North America and Europe, using data collected over 115 years (1900-2015). The honeybees were first brought from Europe to pollinate many crops while the bumblebees are native to the U.S., evolving with the ecosystems that rely on them.
Bumblebees are vital agricultural pollinators and are more efficient than honeybees. Their decline poses a high risk to the ability of our species to feed itself. Bumblebees help in pollinating several important corps including, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, vegetables, seed crops, strawberries, blueberries, cane berries, melons and much more.
This decline is dangerous for the environment and also for the U.S. economy. If measured, bees contribute more $15 billion to the U.S. economy by pollinating crops. Bumblebees are essential pollinators for natural landscapes, and they are not similar to honeybees. "Bumblebees are fuzzy. They're like little teddy bears flying around in the sky," described Soroye. The authors informed that the team at Ottawa could provide new methods to help predict extinction risk in other vulnerable species and identify areas where conservation actions are needed.