Spatially explicit, cross-continental predictions of climate change-related local extinction risk and richness decline in bumblebees

Mr Peter Soroye1, Dr Tim Newbold2, Dr Jeremy Kerr1

1University Of Ottawa, Ottawa, Canada, 2University College London, London, United Kingdom

Bumblebee (Bombus) species across North America and Europe are declining in range size and abundance across their ranges, linked in part to rapid recent climate change. Niche theory and physiology suggest that species’ physiological limits might define whether they persist in some areas and may help to inform predictions on climate change effects. Here, we develop a novel, spatially-explicit index for calculating species’ exposure to thermal and precipitation limits across their ranges. Using temporally and spatially explicit climate data, and a comprehensive occurrence dataset of 66 North American and European bumblebee species, we test whether a species’ or communities’ proximity to thermal or precipitation tolerance limits predicts local extinction, colonization, occupancy, and species richness change. We document declines in mean range size and likelihood of site occupancy by 40% and 27% since 1901. Local extinction events are 8 times more likely than colonization events. Models including environmental exposure predicted up to 54% of variation in site-specific local extinction, local colonization, occupancy, and species richness change. Using our index improved predictions over using models with simple climate variables (average temperature and total annual precipitation). Bumblebee occurrence and richness declines are significantly associated with regions where climate change has pushed species and communities towards or beyond their thermal or precipitation limits. Our results demonstrate that accumulating exposure to extreme climate conditions from climate change is linked with increasing extinction risk, and represent a step forward in our understanding of and ability to predict relatively local-scale climate change impacts on bumblebees.


Peter Soroye is a PhD student at the University of Ottawa. He is studying the direct and interactive impacts of climate change and land use change on pollinators.

Species on the Move

An International Conference Series

The conference brings together scientists and natural resource managers working in the disciplines of global change, biogeography and evolution, and relevant in contexts of natural resource management, biodiversity management and conservation, and theoretical ecology.

Species responses to climate change is a rapidly evolving research field, however, much of our progress is being made in independent research areas: e.g. understanding the process vs responding to the implications, terrestrial vs marine ecosystems, global meta-analyses vs in depth species-specific approaches. This interdisciplinary conference develops connections between these parallel streams, and across temporal and spatial scales.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

© 2015 - 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd