Stressful environments put bumble bees at risk

Image of bumble bee on flower.

(Animal Ecology in Focus) The causes underlying the ongoing decline of bumble bees have been much debated, and include habitat loss, pesticides, emerging diseases and climate change. A recent paper evaluates how the combined effects of four common environmental stressors interact to affect bumblebees at the individual and colony levels.

Grant enables first nationwide effort to save native bees

Image of red bee on flower.

(University of California, Riverside) In a new paper, Hollis Woodard and colleagues lay out the need for an alliance of researchers, environmental organizations and federal entities to monitor native bees throughout the U.S. Supported by a $380,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, anyone with the time and inclination can join this first-of-its-kind monitoring network.

How racism adversely affects wildlife, too

Aerial images of two neighborhoods.

(High Country News) A new paper highlights how racism and classism impact biodiversity, and why it’s so important to factor social justice issues into ecological research. The authors boil down the many human impacts on the environment ⁠— disparities in vegetation and tree density, pollutant exposure, urban heat islands, access to healthy waterways, and proportions of native to non-native plants ⁠— and connect them to racist policies like redlining, displacement, gentrification and Jim Crow laws. When people in power wield influence over the landscape in ways that devalue people’s lives, animals and plants suffer, too ⁠— often in ways that further worsen human health.

Non-native leafcutter bees found in Chicago

Image of non-native leafcutter bee.

(Spartan Newsroom) Thirty of the non-native leafcutter bees were found in a heavily urbanized part of Chicago. How they got to Chicago is uncertain, however. Their presence was previously confirmed in Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. “Although we do not know the extent of the impact of nonnative bee species, there is evidence they may compete strongly with native bees for nesting resources.”

Solitary bees born with functional internal clock – unlike honeybees

Image of red mason in sensing equipment.

(EurekAlert, Frontiers) A common trait of many social insects like honey bees is age-specific behavior: when they emerge from the pupa, workers typically specialize in around-the-clock tasks inside the darkness of the nest, starting with brood care. But they gradually shift towards more cyclic tasks away from center of the nest as they get older. Researchers how found evidence that this shift from around-the-clock to rhythmic tasks, which does not occur in solitary insects, seems to be driven by a slower maturation of the internal “circadian” clock of social honey bees compared to solitary bees. They also found that in solitary red mason bees, Osmia bicornis, females and males emerge with a mature, fully functional circadian clock.