How climate change will affect bumblebee flight
By Brooke Taylor, Editor, CTVNews.ca
Click here for updates on this story
Toronto, Ontario (CTV Network) – The ability of bumblebees to fly for food and pollination is affected by extremes of both high and low temperatures.
Researchers at Imperial College London put bees to the test by measuring the motivation of bumblebees to fly at different temperatures ranging from 12 ° C to 30 ° C.
Scientists found that bumblebees found it difficult to fly beyond a few hundred meters at lower temperatures, after which their endurance increased with temperature up to 25 ° C – the point at which bee flight peaked, according to study.
For most flying insects, body temperature influences flight activity, and air temperature affects body temperature. Too cold and the muscles needed for flight cannot work fast enough, too hot and they overheat, according to a press release.
The results, published Wednesday in Functional Ecology, show that bumblebees living in areas further north may have better flight performance due to the increase in temperature, but those in already warm areas in the south will suffer.
“Climate change is often viewed as negative for bumblebee species, but depending on where they are in the world, our work suggests that it is possible that bumblebees see benefits in some aspect of important behavior. “, said lead author of the study, Daniel Kenna, in the press release.
While this may be beneficial for some bumblebees, Kenna always warns that extreme temperature fluctuations could have a negative impact.
“More extreme weather events, such as cold spells and the unprecedented heat waves of recent years, could constantly push temperatures beyond the comfortable flight range for some bumblebee species,” he said. he declares.
This could prove disastrous for bumblebees and other pollinators that settle for the season and feed around their nesting site.
“These risks are particularly relevant for ‘fixed colony’ pollinators such as bumblebees, which cannot change position during a season if conditions become unfavorable, and potentially provide further explanation as to why losses occur. have been observed at the southern limits of the species’ range, “Kenna added.
In order to measure theft, bumblebees were temporarily attached to “flying mills”. Once attached, they were able to fly in circles, which allowed the researchers to capture distance and flight speed, they used these results to create a thermal performance curve.
They found that at optimal temperatures, the average bumblebee flight was about 3 kilometers. If temperatures rose to 35 ° C, the flight distance would drop to 1 kilometer and drop even further, to a few hundred meters at 10 ° C. In colder temperatures, the researchers found that only the largest worker bees would fly.
“While we still need to understand how these results translate into factors such as the return of foraging to colonies and the provision of pollination, as well as the applicability to other bumblebee species, the results can help us understand how flying insects smaller than larger ones will respond to future climate change, ”said Richard Gill, of the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College, in a statement.
This could have far-reaching implications beyond insect pollinators, he added.
“It’s not just about pollination: the way different flying insects respond to warming temperatures could also affect the spread of insect-borne diseases and agricultural pest outbreaks that threaten food systems,” said Gill. “Applying our experimental setup and results to other species can help us understand future trends in insects important to the management of service delivery or pest control methods. “
Note: this content is subject to a strict embargo in the local market. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you cannot use it on any platform.