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Article

Global Warming, Advancing Bloom and Evidence for Pollinator Plasticity from Long-Term Bee Emergence Monitoring

by 1,2
1
Emeritus, USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Unit, Utah State University, Logan, UT 8432, USA
2
WildBeecology Consulting, Logan, UT 84341, USA
Academic Editor: Cristina Botías
Insects 2021, 12(5), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050457
Received: 19 April 2021 / Revised: 10 May 2021 / Accepted: 13 May 2021 / Published: 16 May 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-Apis Pollinators and Global Change)
Common experience has it that natural seasonal events are earlier in some years and later in others. In temperate zones, these events often seem to be timed by some combination of winter chill hours followed by cumulative warmth, variables which vary with a year’s weather. Over the course of decades, monitored annual bloom dates of a variety of wildflower species varies over 4–8-week ranges. This study reports annual emergence dates of four wild species of ground-nesting bees recorded over 12–24 years. Their first emergence ranged over 4–6 weeks, comparable to wildflowers and in part relatable to the same thermal cues used by plants. Global warming is advancing seasonal events, notably flowering, but it appears that native bees have the phenological flexibility to maintain their floral associations and critical pollination services both in wild and agricultural settings.
Global warming is extending growing seasons in temperate zones, yielding earlier wildflower blooms. Short-term field experiments with non-social bees showed that adult emergence is responsive to nest substrate temperatures. Nonetheless, some posit that global warming will decouple bee flight and host bloom periods, leading to pollination shortfalls and bee declines. Resolving these competing scenarios requires evidence for bees’ natural plasticity in their annual emergence schedules. This study reports direct observations spanning 12–24 years for annual variation in the earliest nesting or foraging activities by 1–4 populations of four native ground-nesting bees: Andrena fulva (Andrenidae), Halictus rubicundus (Halictidae), Habropoda laboriosa and Eucera (Peponapis) pruinosa (Apidae). Calendar dates of earliest annual bee activity ranged across 25 to 45 days, approximating reported multi-decadal ranges for published wildflower bloom dates. Within a given year, the bee H. rubicundus emerged in close synchrony at multiple local aggregations, explicable if meteorological factors cue emergence. Emergence dates were relatable to thermal cues, such as degree day accumulation, soil temperature at nesting depth, and the first pulse of warm spring air temperatures. Similar seasonal flexibilities in bee emergence and wildflower bloom schedules bodes well for bees and bloom to generally retain synchrony despite a warming climate. Future monitoring studies can benefit from several simple methodological improvements. View Full-Text
Keywords: phenology; seasonality; Anthophila; climate change; global warming; weather; ground-nesting; pollinator phenology; seasonality; Anthophila; climate change; global warming; weather; ground-nesting; pollinator
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MDPI and ACS Style

Cane, J. Global Warming, Advancing Bloom and Evidence for Pollinator Plasticity from Long-Term Bee Emergence Monitoring. Insects 2021, 12, 457. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050457

AMA Style

Cane J. Global Warming, Advancing Bloom and Evidence for Pollinator Plasticity from Long-Term Bee Emergence Monitoring. Insects. 2021; 12(5):457. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050457

Chicago/Turabian Style

Cane, James. 2021. "Global Warming, Advancing Bloom and Evidence for Pollinator Plasticity from Long-Term Bee Emergence Monitoring" Insects 12, no. 5: 457. https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12050457

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