Species conservation under future climate change: the case of Bombusbellicosus, a potentially threatened South American bumblebee species
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- Martins, A.C., Silva, D.P., De Marco, P. et al. J Insect Conserv (2015) 19: 33. doi:10.1007/s10841-014-9740-7
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Bees ensure 35 % of global food production, but this service is endangered due to several threats. Declines in bumblebee populations (genus Bombus) have been reported worldwide. Bombusbellicosus is one of the rare cases of reported threatened bumblebees in South America. It was once widespread in southern Brazil’s grasslands until the 1960s. During that time, that area underwent increasing land use which led to a decrease in bee abundance and richness, and to local disappearance of B.bellicosus. Climate change is also believed to cause declines in the abundance of B.bellicosus. Here we used species distribution models to assess potential effects of climate changes on the distribution of B.bellicosus in southern Brazil, considering both current and future climate scenarios. Our results show that the suitable climatic conditions for B.bellicosus will retreat southwards. A wax cover inside its nests is usually related to Bombus species inhabiting cooler climates. This cover enables the maintenance of higher temperatures inside the nest and may be deleterious for the species under future warmer climates. Continuously growing land use is the second major threat to this pollinator. The results presented here may eventually provide theoretical grounds and enable practical conservation actions for B.bellicosus protection in South America, especially given the potential adverse effects of climate changes for this species.