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Changes in the bee fauna of a German botanical garden between 1997 and 2017, attributable to climate warming, not other parameters

A Correction to this article was published on 12 July 2018

This article has been updated


Botanical gardens represent artificial, but stable environments. With this premise, we analyzed the Munich Botanical Garden’s bee fauna in 1997/1999 and again in 2015/2017. The garden covers 20 ha, uses no bee-relevant insecticides, has a protected layout, and on three sides abuts protected areas. Outdoors, it cultivates some 10,871 species/subspecies, many suitable as pollen and nectar sources for bees. The first survey found 79 species, the second 106, or 55% of the 192 species recorded for Munich since 1990. A Jackknife estimate for the second survey suggests 115 expected species. Classifying bees according to their thermal preferences (warm habitats, cool habitats, broad preferences, or unknown) revealed that 15 warm-loving species were gained (newly found), two lost (no longer found), and 12 retained, but only one cool-loving species was gained, three lost, and none retained, which multinomial models show to be significant differences. Of the 62 retained species, 27 changed in abundance, with 18 less frequent and nine more frequent by 2017 than they had been in 1997/1999. Retention, gain, or loss were unconnected to pollen specialization and Red List status of bee species. Between 1997 and 2017, average temperatures in Munich have increased by 0.5 °C, and climate warming over the past century is the most plausible explanation for the directional increase in warm-loving and the decrease in cool-adapted species. These results highlight the potential of botanic gardens with their artificially diverse and near-pesticide-free floras as systems in which to investigate climate change per se as a possible factor in shifting insect diversity.

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Fig. 1

Change history

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We thank B. Bembé, Munich, for information on his monitoring in the 1990s; J. Schuberth, S. Schmidt, and C. Zohner, Munich, and P. Westrich, Kusterdingen, for advice; H. Schäfer, Technical University of Munich, for unpublished primer sequences and advice; M. Silber and J. Babczinsky for help in the lab and with bee preparation; L. Alzinger, R. Thiessen-Bock, and C. Glassl for help with monitoring in 2016; M. Bräu and K. Mandery for information on bee ranges; H. Küchenhoff, and M. Bort from the LMU StaBLab for statistical advice; and the Editor-in-Chief, R. Brandl, and an anonymous reviewer for suggestions that helped improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Michaela M. Hofmann or Susanne S. Renner.

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Communicated by Roland A. Brandl.

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Hofmann, M.M., Fleischmann, A. & Renner, S.S. Changes in the bee fauna of a German botanical garden between 1997 and 2017, attributable to climate warming, not other parameters. Oecologia 187, 701–706 (2018).

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  • Botanic gardens
  • Bee fauna
  • Climate warming
  • Repeated monitoring
  • Stable habitat
  • Insect faunal change