Climate change compresses bumblebee home range

By Candice Arendse

The geographic range of animals is determined by several climatic factors, and this is just one indication of the impact that climate change will have on species range. A new study by biologists at the University of Ottawa reveals that bumble bee populations in North America and Europe have not been able to successfully adapt to climate change. Known globally as nature’s crop pollinators, these insects show shrinking in population size due to their inability to migrate to cooler areas. Bumblebee range has also decreased by up to 300 kilometers. The response of bumble bees to climate change was determined by comparing migration movement of 67 bumblebee species over different time periods. The investigation found that despite shifting from cooler to warmer climates during the past decades, bumble bees did not shift their ranges northward, and populations disappeared from the southernmost and hottest parts of their ranges. The study provides valuable information needed to understand the complexity of the adaptation needs of bumble bees, and also sheds light on the adaptation needs and behavior of other animals.