Aug 18, 2022

By Christine Ross

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The UK’s Natural History Museum has found evidence that climate change is causing bees to physically change shape in response to increased environmental stresses.

Four species of bumblebee that were held in museum collections over the past century show evidence that the insects have been getting increasingly stressed.

The study suggests that with an increase in warmer, wetter years, bumblebees will be put under even more stress in the future.

The research looked at the asymmetry of their wings to determine the amount of stress the individual insects were under when they were alive.

“We’re seeing that bees are declining in populations across the world,” explained Dr. Richard Gill at Imperial College London. “What our work is starting to do is explain when, where and potentially how this stress is being placed on these bee species.”

This could impact their ability to adapt to the changing environment.

Co-author Dr Andres Arce added: “Our goal is to better understand responses to specific environmental factors and learn from the past to predict the future.”

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