Friday, 25 September 2015

Flower declines shrink bee tongues

Date:September 24, 2015

Source:American Association for the Advancement of Science

Climate-related changes in flower diversity have resulted in a decrease in the length of alpine bumble bees' tongues, a new study reports, leaving these insects poorly suited to feed from and pollinate the deep flowers they were adapted to previously. The results highlight how certain mutually beneficial ecological partnerships can be lost due to shifts in climate.

Many co-evolved species have precisely matched traits; for example, long-tongued bumble bees are well adapted for obtaining nectar from deep flowers with long corolla tubes. Recent studies suggest long-tongued bumble bees are declining in number. To better understand why, Nicole Miller-Struthman et al. studied several high-altitude sites in Colorado where two species of long-tongued alpine bumble bee live.

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