Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New research confirms plight of bumble bees, persistence of other bees in Northeast

Date:
March 4, 2013
Source:
American Museum of Natural History
Summary:
A new study shows that although certain bumble bees are at risk, other bee species in the northeastern United States persisted across a 140-year period despite expanding human populations and changing land use. The study informs conservation efforts aimed at protecting native bee species and the important pollinator services they provide.

The cleptoparasitic bee Coelioxys sayi, shown here, is widely distributed in North America and parasitizes Megachile leaf-cutter bees. This photo was taken in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Credit: AMNH/J. S. Ascher

A new study shows that although certain bumble bees are at risk, other bee species in the northeastern United States persisted across a 140-year period despite expanding human populations and changing land use. Led by Rutgers University and based extensively on historical specimens from the American Museum of Natural History and nine other bee collections, the study informs conservation efforts aimed at protecting native bee species and the important pollinator services they provide.

The results are published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Eighty-seven percent of the world's flowering plants, including most of the leading global food crops, are pollinated by animals. Bees are considered the most important pollinators because of their efficiency, specificity, and ubiquity. However, despite concerns about pollinator declines, long-term data on the status of bee species are scarce.

In the new study, the researchers used new web-based software to compile 30,000 museum specimen records representing 438 bee species.

"A novel aspect of this study was the use of collaborative online tools that allowed data to be captured quickly and accurately across 10 institutions, many of which lacked pre-existing capabilities in this area," said John Ascher, a research scientist in the Museum's Division of Invertebrate Zoology and an author on the paper who led the data-collection effort.

From the years 1872 to 2011, the authors observed slight declines in the number of bee species in comparable samples from the northeastern United States. Statistical analysis revealed that only three species exhibited a rapid and recent population collapse -- all species of bumble bees, which also have been shown to be declining in previous studies. Other species, including the oil bee Macropis patellata, showed more gradual declines.

Although few species were found to have severely declined, more than half of all bee species changed in proportion over time, with 29 percent of the species decreasing and 27 percent increasing. Bees that showed the greatest increase are mostly exotic species that were introduced to North America. Few such species were present in the earliest historical samples but they make up an ever-increasing proportion of more recent samples.

"Environmental change affects species differentially, creating 'losers' that decline with increased human activity but also 'winners' that thrive in human-altered environments," said Ignasi Bartomeus, lead author on the paper who conducted this work as a postdoctoral researcher at Rutgers University. "Certain traits can make species more vulnerable."

The scientists found that declining bee species tend to have larger body sizes, restricted diets, and shorter flight seasons.

They also revealed that "southern" bees reaching their northern distributional limits in the Northeast are increasing, a finding that could reflect a response to climate change. The average April temperature increased by more than one degree during the last 40 years in the study region, causing bees and their host plants to emerge earlier in the season.

Ongoing data capture will continue to expand the bee database so that statistical analyses can be applied across a broader geographic area and to a wider range of species, especially those that are rare in collections and potentially of greatest conservation concern.

Data capture was supported by a National Science Foundation Biological Infrastructure grant, #0956388. Additional support for this work was provided by Robert G. Goelet, Chairman Emeritus of the Museum's Board of Trustees.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Museum of Natural History. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. I. Bartomeus, J. S. Ascher, J. Gibbs, B. N. Danforth, D. L. Wagner, S. M. Hedtke, R. Winfree. Historical changes in northeastern US bee pollinators related to shared ecological traits. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1218503110

Cite This Page:

American Museum of Natural History. "New research confirms plight of bumble bees, persistence of other bees in Northeast." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304161621.htm>.
American Museum of Natural History. (2013, March 4). New research confirms plight of bumble bees, persistence of other bees in Northeast. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304161621.htm
American Museum of Natural History. "New research confirms plight of bumble bees, persistence of other bees in Northeast." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130304161621.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Asteroid's Timing Was 'Colossal Bad Luck' For The Dinosaurs

Newsy (July 28, 2014) The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck at the worst time for them. A new study says that if it hit earlier or later, they might've survived. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge from Nest

AP (July 27, 2014) A live-streaming webcam catches loggerhead sea turtle hatchlings emerging from a nest in the Florida Keys. (July 27) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Russia Saves Gecko Sex Satellite, Media Has Some Fun With It

Newsy (July 27, 2014) The satellite is back under ground control after a tense few days, but with a gecko sex experiment on board, the media just couldn't help themselves. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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