Twenty four percent of European bumblebee species are threatened with extinction according to a recent study assessing the species group at the European level.
The study examines all of the 68 bumblebee species that occur in Europe. It is part of the Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) project and the European Red List of pollinators, both funded by the European Commission. The results feed into The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™.
Bumblebees, like other pollinators, play a critical role in securing food production. They allow plants to reproduce and improve the production of crops, such as tomatoes, peppers and many other types of fruit, vegetables and seeds that make up our diet.
Of the five most important pollinators of European crops, three are bumblebee species. Together with other pollinators, bumblebees contribute more than 22 billion Euros to European agriculture per year.
"We are very concerned with these findings. Such a high proportion of threatened bumblebees can have serious implications for our food production," says Ana Nieto, European Biodiversity Officer of IUCN and coordinator of the study.
"Protecting bumblebee species and habitats, restoring degraded ecosystems and promoting biodiversity-friendly agricultural practices will be essential to reverse the negative trends in European bumblebee populations."
According to the study, 46% of bumblebee species in Europe have a declining population, 29% are stable and 13% are increasing. Climate change, the intensification of agriculture and changes in agricultural land are the main threats to the species.
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