Social life of Australian bee offers insights on evolution. Exposure to novel insecticide impairs bumble bee behavior. Monarch butterfly numbers are solid – or are they?
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Photo: Stephanie McKnight, Xerces Society
Despite dire warnings, monarch butterfly numbers are solid – or are they?
(ScienceDaily, University of Delaware) Scientists have been warning for quite some time that monarch butterflies were slated for extinction due to diminishing winter colonies. But a new study found that warming temperatures and growth in the summer population of monarchs has compensated for losses during the winter. However, the researchers continue to preach caution, as the study did show continuing declines in other species of butterflies.
(Twitter, Tyson Wepprich @TysonWepprich) “Woof, here’s my opinion about the new monarch butterfly study: data not designed to track abundance shows no significant trend in abundance for counts collected once/year... The analysis is fine for noisy data, but the press release/quotes by the researchers that the overall breeding population is doing swell is weird given that the only sites with significant increases were in FL where monarchs stopped migrating.”
(AP News) A rare plant that depends on wetlands for survival is now on the federal endangered species list, a designation that environmentalists say will boost efforts to protect the last free-flowing river in the desert Southwest. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published the decision in the federal register to list the Arizona eryngo as endangered and set aside nearly 13 acres (5 hectares) in southern Arizona as critical habitat. The Arizona eryngo is a flowering plant in the carrot family that is frequented by pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
(New York Times) When Margaret Renkl was walking through the garden market at her local farmer’s market looking for flowers to feed native pollinators, she noticed Monarch caterpillars were munching away on the leaves of the milkweed plants for sale. “Reader, I screamed. I also bought every caterpillar-blighted plant, worried that anybody else would simply kill the creatures eating the plants that cost $12 each.”
(Twitter, Wildlife Preservation Canada @WPCWild911) “WPC is leading a Bumble Bioblitz to encourage people to survey for bumble bees. We have a bingo card to help you cross as many as possible off your list! The top 5 entries to the ‘WPC Bumble Blitz 2022’ project will receive a ‘Keep Canada Buzzing’ tote!”
Photo: Kayle Neis, Bloomberg, Getty Images
(Yale Environment 360) Farmers and scientists are increasingly observing that unusually high springtime temperatures can kill pollen and interfere with the fertilization of crops. Researchers are now searching for ways to help pollen beat the heat, including developing more heat-tolerant varieties.
(The Gleaner) Africanized bees pose a threat to the productivity of honey bee colonies, domesticated animals and public safety. The ministry has developed a national action plan to combat the entry of the so-called “killer bees”. “This includes the mapping of colony movements, installation and monitoring of interception traps, determination of the African lineage of local stock and training of stakeholders.”
Photo: Rich Hatfield, Xerces Society
(Center for Biological Diversity) The Environmental Protection Agencys final biological evaluations of clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam marked the first time the agency has completed such evaluations of any neonicotinoids’ harms to the nation’s most imperiled plants and animals. Species found to be harmed by all three of the neonicotinoids include rusty patched bumble bees, whooping cranes, chinook salmon, northern long-eared bats and orcas.
(Institute for European Environmental Policy) The European Commission held a public consultation to collect views on the implementation of the EU Pollinators Initiative and gather suggestions on how to strengthen the current framework on wild pollinators to meet its long-term objective to reverse the decline of pollinators by 2030. This consultation followed the announcement of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, to strengthen EU actions to protect wild pollinators. IEEP have submitted, with the Safeguard project consortium, a response to the public consultation on the revision of the EU Pollinators Initiative.
Photo: James Dorey Photography
(The Guardian) The unusual social life of a native species of Australian bee has shed light on how cooperative behaviors in bees evolved. Scientists have analyzed the behavior of Amphylaeus morosus, a forest-dwelling bee that lives in small nests of rarely more than two females. The scientists believe the bee only made the switch from solitude to colony living relatively recently in its evolutionary history.
Exposure to the novel insecticide flupyradifurone impairs bumble bee feeding motivation, learning and memory retention
(Twitter, Harry Siviter@harrysiviter, first tweet) “We exposed bumblebees to an acute, field realistic concentration of flupyradifurone before training bees to learning rewarding colours/smells in a free moving training protocol... we found across both olfactory and colour training trials, that 32% of the bees exposed to the pesticide where ‘unmotivated’ to participate in the experiment, compared with 8% in controls. This suggests that the pesticide reduced feeding motivation. Of the bees that were motivated we found that olfactory learning/memory was impaired.” Original paper
(Twitter, Harry Siviter@harrysiviter, second tweet) “...in this case let me explain how basic bumblebee biology explains how this exposure regime is indeed field realistic...”
(Phys.org, North Carolina State University) Researchers examined the common eastern bumble bee and a gut parasite called Crithidia bombi to study how floral traits – like the size and shape of flowers or number of flowers – played roles in three steps that lead to parasite transmission to bees on flowers: fecal deposition on flowers, parasite survival on flowers, and acquisition of the parasite by a new bee host. Parasite spread has been implicated as a major driver of bee population decline.
(ScienceNews) The spindly parts seem to be a magnet for birds and may break off easily, facilitating escape. The finding could help explain why wing tails have independently evolved multiple times across different moth and butterfly groups.
Photo: Clemens Bilan, EPA
(The Guardian) Trees and grass are emitting more pollen than usual, scientists say – and it’s likely to stay that way in the coming years.
Photo: J. Koch
(Utah State University) Bee management and conservation depend on accurate identification of bee species. Researchers are turning to advances in artificial intelligence image classification to make that task more efficient, more cost-effective and less invasive for bees.
One More Thing…
This poem is inspired by recent research, which has used 10 years of citizen science data to show that a variety of conservation approaches are needed to protect UK bumblebee species.
We map your presence across field and pasture, tracing flights of fancy from marsh and mire to gardens, hedges, lanes. Across freshwater edges you weave your dance, vibrant stripes of fur drifting over bracken and herbs with the casual impertinence of independent passage. Transects diverge, breaking transitions with dissecting lines of gold and black as you hurry down corridors made narrow in escape.