Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Large-scale study reveals major decline in bumble bees in US

Date:
January 5, 2011
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
The first in-depth national study of wild bees in the US has uncovered major losses in the relative abundance of several bumble bee species and declines in their geographic range since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.

Researchers analyzed the relative abundance of eight species of bumble bees in the US. Black areas of the US. map represent the historic range of Bombus affinis, one of the species found to be in decline. Yellow circles indicate the total number of bumble bee specimens collected at a given site. Orange areas in the circles represent the relative proportion of B. affinis specimens found at that location. (Yellow circles with no orange regions indicate no B. affinis specimens were found at that location.)
Credit: Janet Sinn‑Hanlon of the Imaging Technology Center, Beckman Institute, University of Illinois

The first in-depth national study of wild bees in the U.S. has uncovered major losses in the relative abundance of several bumble bee species and declines in their geographic range since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.

Related Articles


The researchers report that declining bumble bee populations have lower genetic diversity than bumble bee species with healthy populations and are more likely to be infected with Nosema bombi, an intracellular parasite known to afflict some species of bumble bees in Europe.

The new study appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"We have 50 species of bumble bees in North America. We've studied eight of them and four of these are significantly in trouble," said University of Illinois entomology professor Sydney Cameron, who led the study. "They could potentially recover; some of them might. But we only studied eight. This could be the tip of the iceberg," she said.

The three-year study analyzed the geographic distribution and genetic diversity of eight species of bumble bees in the U.S., relying on historical records and repeated surveys of about 400 sites. The researchers compiled a database of more than 73,000 museum records and compared them with current sampling based on intensive national surveys of more than 16,000 specimens.

The national analysis found that the relative abundances of four of the eight species analyzed have declined by as much as 96 percent and that their surveyed geographic ranges have shrunk by 23 to 87 percent. Some of these contractions have occurred in the last two decades.

Researchers have many hypotheses about what is causing the declines, but none have been proven, Cameron said. Climate change appears to play a role in the declines in some bumble bee species in Europe, she said. Habitat loss may also contribute to the loss of some specialist species, she said. Low genetic diversity and high infection rates with the parasite pathogen are also prime suspects.

"Whether it's one of these or all of the above, we need to be aware of these declines," Cameron said. "It may be that the role that these four species play in pollinating plants could be taken up by other species of bumble bees. But if additional species begin to fall out due to things we're not aware of, we could be in trouble."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. S. A. Cameron, J. D. Lozier, J. P. Strange, J. B. Koch, N. Cordes, L. F. Solter, T. L. Griswold. Patterns of widespread decline in North American bumble bees. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1014743108

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Large-scale study reveals major decline in bumble bees in US." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101359.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2011, January 5). Large-scale study reveals major decline in bumble bees in US. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101359.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Large-scale study reveals major decline in bumble bees in US." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104101359.htm (accessed November 24, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, November 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Winter Can Cause Depression — Here's How To Combat It

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) — Millions of American suffer from seasonal depression every year. It can lead to adverse health effects, but there are ways to ease symptoms. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) — The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Anglerfish Rarely Seen In Its Habitat Will Haunt You

Newsy (Nov. 22, 2014) — For the first time Monterey Bay Aquarium recorded a video of the elusive, creepy and rarely seen anglerfish. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Around the World Take Flight

Birds Around the World Take Flight

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 22, 2014) — An imperial eagle equipped with a camera spreads its wings over London. It's just one of the many birds making headlines in this week's "animal roundup". Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins