Scientists predict that between 32 and 76 percent of non-threatened European bumblebee species will lose 30 percent of their suitable habitat between 2061 and 2080, compared to the period 2000-2014. A sharp decline was also observed between the periods 1901-1970 and 2000-2014. The study used historical data from several observation periods between 1901 and 1970.
“From 400,000 observations, we analyzed where bumblebees are still found in sufficiently large populations today,” says co-author and VUB climate scientist Wim Thiery. “From this data, we have defined an ideal biotope for each of the bumblebee species with artificial intelligence.”
It seems that the most suitable biotopes today are in the Alps, Benelux, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Poland. Warmer areas, especially in southern Europe, appear to be less suitable.
To reinforce the future prediction, several possible future scenarios were used, based on the degree of climate change, land use, dependence on fossil fuels, deforestation and intensive agriculture. “In the most pessimistic scenario, we see that the possible survival zones will be limited to a few places, mainly in Scandinavia and the Alps.”
“In this scenario, the Benelux will become a battlefield,” warns Thiery. “In the most optimistic scenario, with an immediate cessation of the burning of fossil fuels and no more deforestation, we can still avoid the end of the bumblebee in Central Europe.”
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