保護等級為極危的大黃蜂Bombus cullumanus，因為棲息地的破碎，加上農業方式改變導致牠們的主要食物苜蓿消失，過去10年內數量已減少超過80%。過去曾經分布廣泛的Bombus cullumanus，現在只在全歐零星區域偶爾出現了。
Seventeen of the 68 species of European bumblebees are threatened with extinction, finds a new study assessing the species group at the European level.
“We are very concerned with these findings. Such a high proportion of threatened bumblebees can have serious implications for our food production,” said study coordinator Ana Nieto, European biodiversity officer with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN, which maintains the Red List of Threatened Species.
Bumblebees, like other pollinators, allow plants to reproduce and improve the production of crops, such as tomatoes, peppers and many other types of fruit, vegetables and seeds.
Of the five most important pollinators of European crops, three are bumblebee species. Together with other pollinators, bumblebees contribute more than 22 billion euros to European agriculture per year.
“Protecting bumblebee species and habitats, restoring degraded ecosystems and promoting biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices will be essential to reverse the negative trends in European bumblebee populations,” said Nieto, releasing the study’s findings on Wednesday.
”Many of these species live in very restricted areas and in low numbers,” said Pierre Rasmont, member of the STEP team and the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Bumblebees Specialist Group. “They are often extremely specialized on their host plants, which makes them susceptible to any environmental change.”
According to the study, 46 percent of all bumblebee species in Europe are in population decline, 29 percent are stable and 13 percent are increasing.
Climate change, the intensification of agriculture and changes in agricultural land are the main threats to the species, the study finds. Other reasons for their decline include pollution from agricultural waste and loss of habitat due to urban development.
The European Union recently banned or restricted the use of several neonicotinoid insecticides that are dangerous to bees and is funding research into status of pollinators.
“However,” said EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, “efforts clearly need to be scaled up, not least through better mainstreaming of biodiversity into other policies, but also to raise awareness about the benefits that pollinators bring.”
Climate change, through increasing temperatures and long periods of drought, is responsible for major changes in bumblebee habitat.
Bombus hyperboreus, the second largest bumblebee of Europe, listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, is strictly associated with Arctic and Subarctic regions and only lives in the Scandinavian tundra and in the extreme north of Russia. Climate change is likely to reduce the area of its habitat, leading to population decline.
Changes in land use and agricultural practices that result in the loss of the species’ natural environment also represent a serious threat to many bumblebees in Europe.
The geographic range of the Critically Endangered Bombus cullumanus has shrunk by more than 80 percent in the last 10 years following habitat fragmentation and changes in farming practices which involve removing clovers – its main forage. Once widespread, it now only occurs in a few scattered locations across Europe.
Europe’s largest bumblebee, the Endangered Bombus fragrans, is also threatened by the intensification of agriculture, which is destroying its native habitat in the steppes of Ukraine and Russia.
Measures such as increasing the margins and buffer strips around agricultural fields that are rich in flowers and wildlife and the preservation of grasslands are seen as effective tools in alleviating the rapid decline in bumblebee species. They can provide bees with forage and help underpin stable populations of pollinators, whose survival is crucial for European food security.