American Bumblebee at Risk of Extinction


Bumblebees declining number are worrying scientist (Flickr)

Sthefany Nóbriga| May 16, 2019

 A new research study from the University of Vermont and York University found that the lack of plant diversity, climate change, and agricultural expansion could harm the American bumblebee, bringing them to extinction. 

Scientists found that Bombus pensylvanicus, commonly known as the American bumblebee, is rapidly declining in the northern part of the continent.

Moreover, this is due to accelerating threats from agricultural expansion, such as widely used insecticides, and the danger of harsh winters throughout the northern region. 

According to the study the number of areas where bumblebees can be found decreased by 70% from historical rates. In Canada, the bumblebee population has dropped approximately 89%

American bumblebees are a keystone species and are vital for the function of ecosystems where they reside, and if they go extinct, the plant reproduction and plant yield could plummet significantly, according to CNN.

Bumblebees use their jaws to rattle flowers until pollen is released, and this process is vital for food crops such as tomatoes, blueberries, strawberries, peppers, and potatoes, and so much more.  

However, already one bumblebee species is on the list of endangered species for unnatural extinction. Also, considered for stated listing are four additional species native to California. 

Rusty patched bumble bee added to Iowa endangered species list


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The rusty patched bumble bee used to be found across 31 states and parts of Canada, but is now only found in a few upper Midwest locations. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Jenna Ladd | January 12, 2017

The rusty patched bumble bee was recently added to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species list for the first time.

The Xerces Society, a non-profit conservation group out of Portland, Oregon, petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service for the species’ new designation. Serina Jepsen, director of the Xerces endangered species program, said in an interview with Radio Iowa, “The rusty patched bumble bee has declined by about 90% from its historic range,” Jepsen added, “It used to occur across 31 states as well as some Canadian provinces. It now occurs in just a handful of locations and it really only exists in any numbers in a few areas in the upper Midwest.”

Small numbers of the rusty patched bumble bee are still found in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana, but meaningful populations have not been detected in Iowa in years. Native pollinators like the rusty patched bumble bee are estimated to add $9 billion in value to the agricultural economy each year.

Jepsen said, “These animals together, not just the rusty patched bumble bee, but the rusty patched bumble bee and all of the other native bees that provide pollination to both wildflowers and natural ecosystems as well as our crops, are incredibly important to functioning ecosystems.”

Now that the species has been added to the endangered species list, “The Fish and Wildlife Service now has the authority to develop a recovery plan and work towards the species recovery. I think this will really make the difference this species needs in terms of its future survival and existence, really,” Jepsen said.

She added that providing habitat that sustains all pollinators depends on the continuation of investment from public agencies combined with efforts of private citizens.

The rusty patched bumble bee has a way of giving back.

Jepsen said, “Addressing the threats to the rusty patched bumble bee that it faces, from pesticide use, from disease, from habitat loss, will help not only this species but a wide variety of other native pollinators that are really important to functioning natural ecosystems as well as agricultural systems.”