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Nature_and_Environment.114

It's later than you think

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{Nature_and_Environment.114.22}: Jay Hoffman {resist} Thu, 06 Feb 2020 22:20:14 CST (71 lines)

Why bumble bees are going extinct in time of 'climate chaos'
by University of Ottawa

"We've known for a while that climate change is related to the growing
extinction risk that animals are facing around the world," first
author Peter Soroye explained. "In this paper, we offer an answer to
the critical questions of how and why that is. We find that species
extinctions across two continents are caused by hotter and more
frequent extremes in temperatures."

"We have now entered the world's sixth mass extinction event, the
biggest and most rapid global biodiversity crisis since a meteor ended
the age of the dinosaurs."—Peter Soroye

Massive decline of the most important pollinators on Earth

"Bumble bees are the best pollinators we have in wild landscapes and
the most effective pollinators for crops like tomato, squash, and
berries," Peter Soroye observed. "Our results show that we face a
future with many less bumble bees and much less diversity, both in the
outdoors and on our plates."

The researchers discovered that bumble bees are disappearing at rates
"consistent with a mass extinction."

"If declines continue at this pace, many of these species could vanish
forever within a few decades," Peter Soroye warned.

"We know that this crisis is entirely driven by human activities,"
Peter Soroye said.

The researchers looked at climate change and how it increases the
frequency of really extreme events like heatwaves and droughts,
creating a sort of "climate chaos" which can be dangerous for animals.
Knowing that species all have different tolerances for temperature
(what's too hot for some might not be for others), they developed a
new measurement of temperature.

"We have created a new way to predict local extinctions that tells us,
for each species individually, whether climate change is creating
temperatures that exceed what the bumble bees can handle," Dr. Tim
Newbold explained.

Using data on 66 different bumble bee species across North America and
Europe that have been collected over a 115-year period (1900-2015) to
test their hypothesis and new technique, the researchers were able to
see how bumble bee populations have changed by comparing where bees
are now to where they used to be historically.

"We found that populations were disappearing in areas where the
temperatures had gotten hotter," Peter Soroye said. "Using our new
measurement of climate change, we were able to predict changes both
for individual species and for whole communities of bumble bees with a
surprisingly high accuracy."

This study doesn't end here. In fact, it opens the doors to new
research horizons to track extinction levels for other species like
reptiles, birds and mammals.

"Perhaps the most exciting element is that we developed a method to
predict extinction risk that works very well for bumble bees and could
in theory be applied universally to other organisms," Peter Soroye
indicated. "With a predictive tool like this, we hope to identify
areas where conservation actions would be critical to stopping
declines."

Dr. Kerr said, "Ultimately, we must address climate change itself and
every action we take to reduce emissions will help. The sooner the
better. It is in all our interests to do so, as well as in the
interests of the species with whom we share the world."
https://phys.org/news/2020-02-bumble-bees-extinct-climate-chaos.html?

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