Distribution of bumblebees across Europe

October 18, 2018, CORDIS
Credit: European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC)

Scientists have mapped the distribution of bumblebees in Europe and created a predictive map that can be used to monitor and mitigate bumblebee decline.

The recent decline in plant and crop pollination represents a threat to ecosystems and agriculture.

The predictive map created by scientists from the JRC and Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project could serve as a for farming professionals and policymakers, with the ultimate goal of preserving .

Mapping pollinators

STEP and JRC scientists mapped the distribution of the 47 most common species, which are known to be important due to their distinctive physical characteristics such as body size, hair and strength.

This led to the creation of 47 maps based on environmental land data, climate statistics and field observations.

Experts can use the maps to assess the distribution of bumblebees across the EU and predict potential areas of decline for each species.

Most species are currently located in central Europe.

Their presence decreases towards European coasts, due to the unsuitably hot weather around the Mediterranean Sea.

Global warming is likely to impact the future distribution of bumblebees.

The decline in pollinators is a global phenomenon, which is exacerbated by pesticide use and habitat loss.

Tool to prevent pollinator decline

Pollination plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy ecosystems and agriculture, notably by increasing yields of fruits and vegetables.

Therefore, a further decline in the population of bumblebees could result in higher costs of certain products.

The new monitoring tool predicts areas where bumblebees are likely to decline as well as areas where they are likely to flourish.

It can be used for preventive purposes by policymakers, land-use managers, consultants, ecologists and the scientific community.

The pollinator maps can support monitoring programmes and facilitate conservation actions as part of the recent EU Pollinator's Initiative.

Launched on 1 June 2018, this initiative proposes actions to improve knowledge about pollinator decline, tackle its causes and raise awareness through societal engagement and collaboration.

Explore further: In the absence of bees, flies are responsible for pollination in the Arctic region

More information: Chiara Polce et al. Distribution of bumblebees across Europe, One Ecosystem (2018). DOI: 10.3897/oneeco.3.e28143

Related Stories

Organic farming methods favors pollinators

September 14, 2018

Pollinating insects are endangered globally, with a particularly steep decline over the last 40 years. An extensive 3-year study from Lund University in Sweden has found that organic farming methods can contribute to halting ...

Fighting decline of pollinators in Europe

February 19, 2015

Pollination is crucial to providing food security with 84% of European crops benefitting, at least in part, from insect pollination and 78% of temperate wildflowers needing biotic pollination. An estimated ~10% of the total ...

Recommended for you

Matter waves and quantum splinters

March 25, 2019

Physicists in the United States, Austria and Brazil have shown that shaking ultracold Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) can cause them to either divide into uniform segments or shatter into unpredictable splinters, depending ...

How tree diversity regulates invading forest pests

March 25, 2019

A national-scale study of U.S. forests found strong relationships between the diversity of native tree species and the number of nonnative pests that pose economic and ecological threats to the nation's forests.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.