Feeds

US bumblebees in 'alarming' decline

Grim outlook for 'important pollinators'

High performance access to file storage

US researchers have announced that numbers of four species of Stateside bumblebees have declined to the point of extinction, and have fingered a pathogen genus thought to be responsible for a similar collapse in honeybee populations worldwide as a contributory cause.

A team led by Sydney Cameron of the University of Illinois conducted a three-year survey of eight species at 382 sites across 40 states, comparing the resulting data with 73,000 historical records.

The sobering conclusion is that "the relative abundances of four species have declined by up to 96 per cent and that their surveyed geographic ranges have contracted by 23–87 per cent, some within the last 20 years".

Speaking to Reuters, Cameron described bumblebees as "the most important pollinators of native plants", which also play an crucial role in pollinating blueberries, cranberries and tomatoes.

Significantly, the team found "declining populations have significantly higher infection levels of the microsporidian pathogen Nosema bombi". The related Nosema ceranae has been associated with Colony Collapse Disorder, which has seriously affected honeybee numbers worldwide.

In 2007, Professor Dave Goulson of the UK's Bumblebee Conservation Trust warned that Britain had already lost three of its 50 bumblee species in the last 50 years, and 10 were "severely threatened", while two were "teetering on the edge of extinction and could be gone in five to 10 years quite easily".

While Goulson attributed this to "pesticides and agricultural intensification", the US research now suggests a possible link with Nosema fungi.

Whatever the ultimate cause of the bumblebee's woes, Cameron concluded: "This is a wake-up call that bumblebee species are declining not only in Europe, not only in Asia, but also in North America."

Cameron's findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (abstract here). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Video games make you NASTY AND VIOLENT
Especially if you are bad at them and keep losing
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight
It's going to be a slow and sleepy flight for the pilots
Russian deputy PM: 'We are coming to the Moon FOREVER'
Plans to annex Earth's satellite with permanent base by 2030
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Saturn spotted spawning new FEMTO-MOON
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
India's GPS alternative launches second satellite
Closed satnav system due to have all seven birds aloft by 2016
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.