Over 75% ‘European bumblebee species may be threatened by 2080’ – study reveals.

Climate Change Threatens Over Three-Quarters of European Bumblebee Species

Researchers have warned that unless measures are taken to address the impacts of climate change, more than three-quarters of bumblebee species in Europe could be at risk in the coming decades. Their findings indicate that 32–76% of European bumblebee species, previously classified as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are potentially vulnerable. These estimates represent worst-case scenarios where European bumblebees could lose up to 30% of their current habitat within the next 40–60 years, placing 75% of the species in jeopardy. Additionally, bumblebee species from Arctic and alpine environments may face extinction in Europe, with an expected loss of at least 90% of their territory.

Dr. Guillaume Ghisbain, a conservation biologist at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, expressed deep concern about the findings. He emphasized the long-standing alarm sounded by scientists regarding pollinator decline, particularly bumblebees, and the extensive research on their population trends across Europe. Ghisbain highlighted the disappearance of a fifth of bumblebee species in Belgium.

He added that many conservation biologists worldwide have reached similar conclusions – pollinators are declining more severely than previously thought. Bumblebees are crucial for crop pollination in cold and temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.

Protecting Natural Habitats and Climates

With the destruction of their natural habitats and rising global temperatures, understanding the impact of these changes on insect populations is crucial for developing effective conservation plans. The study used observational data from 1901–1970 and 2000–2014 to create models projecting trends up to 2080. These models suggest that Scandinavia, with its cooler climate, could potentially become refuges for displaced or threatened bumblebee species.

However, Dr. Ghisbain emphasized the need to ensure that this region remains free from factors that could harm bumblebee populations, including heatwaves, droughts, pesticide use, and the concentration of parasites. He also noted that there is no guarantee that bumblebees will be able to migrate to Scandinavia from other parts of Europe.

Ultimately, the survival of bumblebees depends on large-scale efforts to protect natural habitats and climates.

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