Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 33–43 | Cite as

Species conservation under future climate change: the case of Bombus bellicosus, a potentially threatened South American bumblebee species

  • Aline C. Martins
  • Daniel P. Silva
  • Paulo De MarcoJr.
  • Gabriel A. R. Melo


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. Bombus bellicosus 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.


Species distribution modelling Bumblebee Pollinator Climate change South America Grasslands 



ACM would like to thank all the researchers who made their Entomological Collections open-access online and provided several of the B. bellicosus occurrences used here. ACM would also like to thank the curators Betina Blochtein (PUC-RS) and Maria H. Galileo (Fundação Zoobotânica-RS) for allowing the exam of their collections and Rafael Kamke who personally examined B. bellicosus specimens in the bee collection of UFSC. We would like to thank Sara Lodi, Solana Boschilia, Victor Gonzalez, and two anonymous reviewers for critical comments on the manuscript. ACM and DPS received doctorate fellowships from CNPq—Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (148685/2010-2 and 147204/2010-0, respectively). PDMJ and GARM have been continuously supported by grants from CNPq.

Supplementary material

10841_2014_9740_MOESM1_ESM.docx (371 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 370 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aline C. Martins
    • 1
  • Daniel P. Silva
    • 2
  • Paulo De MarcoJr.
    • 3
  • Gabriel A. R. Melo
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratório de Biologia Comparada de Hymenoptera, Departamento de ZoologiaUniversidade Federal do ParanáCuritibaBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal do ParáBelémBrazil
  3. 3.Theory, Metapopulation and Landscape Lab, Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Federal de Goiás Campus IIGoiâniaBrazil

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