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Title: Climate change impacts on bumblebees converge across continents

item KERR, JEREMY - University Of Ottawa
item PINDAR, ALANA - University Of Ottawa
item GALPERN, PAUL - University Of Calgary
item PACKER, LAURENCE - York University
item POTTS, SIMON - University Of Reading
item ROBERTS, STUART - University Of Reading
item RASMONT, PERRE - University Of Mons-Hainaut
item SCHWEIGER, OLIVER - Helmholtz Centre For Environmental Research
item COLLA, SHEILA - Wildlife Preservation Canada
item RICHARDSON, LEIF - Dartmouth College
item WAGNER, DAVID - University Of Connecticut
item LAWRENCE, GALL - Yale University
item SIKES, DEREK - University Of Alaska
item Pantoja, Alberto

Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/21/2015
Publication Date: 7/10/2015
Citation: Kerr, J., Pindar, A., Galpern, P., Packer, L., Potts, S., Roberts, S., Rasmont, P., Schweiger, O., Colla, S., Richardson, L., Wagner, D., Lawrence, G., Sikes, D., Pantoja, A. 2015. Climate change impacts on bumblebees converge across continents. Science. 349(6244):177-180.

Interpretive Summary: Accelerating biological impacts of climate change threaten many species, necessitating advances in techniques to assess species’ vulnerabilities to recent and anticipated climate changes. Warming has caused range expansion toward the poles and higher elevations. Evidence from some localities demonstrates that climate impacts can cause losses from trailing range margins among some species of bumblebees, although many other species do not exhibit this pattern. Such responses depend on species’ traits, like heat or cold tolerance, that reflect shared evolutionary history and climatic origins of taxa. Climate change can interact with other threats, like land use intensification, to alter species’ responses to emerging conditions. Such global changes can alter or erode ecological services provided by the affected species. Few species assemblages contribute more to these services than bumblebees, which are effective, but often declining, pollinators in temperate regions. No study has yet evaluated climate change impacts across latitudinal and thermal limits, or elevation, of such a large species assemblage. This paper studied the assembled a database of ~423,000 georeferenced observations for 67 European and North American bumblebee species. We measured differences in species’ northern and southern range limits, the warmest or coolest temperatures occupied, and their mean elevations in three time periods and analyzed these relative to a baseline period.

Technical Abstract: For many species, geographical ranges are expanding toward the poles in response to climate change, while remaining stable along range edges nearest the equator. Using long term observations across Europe and North America over 110 years, we test for climate change-related range shifts in bumblebee species by examining their latitudinal and thermal limits, and their movements along elevational gradients. We find cross-continentally consistent trends in failures to track warming through time at species’ northern range limits, range losses at their southern range limits, and shifts to higher elevations among southern species. These effects are independent of changing land uses or pesticide applications and underscore the need to test for climate impacts at both leading and trailing latitudinal and thermal limits for species.