Drought impacts bee communities more than land use change

Climate change has increased extreme weather events like flood and drought, while population growth and development have caused habitat loss and fragmentation, and both of these climate and land use changes negatively impact important biodiversity. A study published in the journal Insects found that while both drought and habitat fragmentation impact community composition of wild, native bees, drought has a much greater impact than habitat fragmentation, emphasizing the need to prioritize research related to climate change impacts on biodiversity.  In this study, drought had three times more impact on community composition than habitat fragmentation, and habitat fragmentation did not seem to exacerbate the impacts of drought. The researchers collected bees after a major drought event in Southern California and found that the abundance of some species was drastically reduced, however, the abundance of other species increased, indicating that drought conditions were favorable for some native bees. The bees that were most negatively impacted were more specialized, that is, they have more dedicated relationships with certain flowers versus generalists that visit lots of different flowers, but do not always pollinate as effectively as specialists. This research shows that both climate and land use changes will result in changes of bee communities and because the impacts of climate are much larger than habitat fragmentation, future research should focus more on the effects of climate.


Banner Photo Credit: Sandy Millar; unsplash.com