Bumblebees on verge of extinction?

January 5th, 2011 - 4:17 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 5 (IANS) Four previously abundant species of the bumblebee, considered one of the most important plant pollinators, are on the verge of being wiped out, a study says.There has been a 96 percent decline in the numbers of the four species, while their range has shrunk by as much as 87 percent.

The alarming figures confirm fears that the agriculturally important insect is in decline worldwide, reports the journal Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences.

Professor Sydney Cameron of the University of Illinois, who led the study, said: “These are one of the most important pollinators of native plants.”

“We provide incontrovertible evidence that multiple Bombus (bumblebee) species have experienced sharp population declines at the national level,” the Daily Mail quoted Cameron as saying.

Bumblebees are also important pollinators, Prof Cameron said, but are far less studied. They also pollinate tomatoes, blueberries and cranberries.

In recent years, experts have documented a disappearance of bees in what is widely called colony collapse disorder, blamed on many factors including parasites, fungi, stress, pesticides and viruses. But most studies have focused on honeybees.

Prof. Cameron’s team did a three-year study of 382 sites in 40 states and also looked at more than 73,000 museum records in the US.

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