Biodiversity Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (7): 760-765.doi: 10.17520/biods.2018078

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A horizon scan of the impacts of environmental change on wild bees in China

Xiuwei Liu, Douglas Chesters, Chunsheng Wu, Qingsong Zhou, Chaodong Zhu*()   

  1. Key Laboratory of Zoological Systematics and Evolution, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
  • Received:2018-03-12 Accepted:2018-06-10 Online:2018-09-11
  • Zhu Chaodong E-mail:zhucd@ioz.ac.cn
  • About author:# Co-first authors

Wild pollinator bees play an important role in ecosystem function and food security. In recent years, natural forests have been lost, while afforestation programs are primarily monoculture plantation, whether commercial or restorative. The net effect for bees has been fragmentation and sometime wholesale loss of habitats. For instance, diversity of wild bees in pure forest, Camellia oleifera and rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) plantation was found to be unexpectedly low. The rampant use of neonicotinoid pesticides and herbicide is known to negatively impact development and behavior of bees. Urbanization has dramatically impacted bee communities, with significant changes in species richness between suburban and central business areas. These are likely tied to the effect of effluent, exhaust gas and dust on foraging, growth and development. Climate change from greenhouse gas emissions can disrupt the mutualistic relationship between pollinating bees and plants via rapid phenological shifts. The above environmental changes occurring in China are likely cause wide declines in diversity and decreases in populations. Although China has rich natural heritage for bees, there is a lack of long term monitoring programs for species of pollinator bees and a dearth of data on distributions of bee species. As a result, the drivers of bee community composition and population decline are poorly understood. We emphasize the need to prioritize surveys of pollinating bees, continue ongoing monitoring programs and build wider research networks for the study of wild pollinator bees. These steps will ensure that sufficient data can accumulate for developing a prediction and risk assessment framework to help manage the declines in pollinating bee populations and mitigate the attendant economic and non-economic impacts.

Key words: habitat, urbanization, climate change, environmental pollution, pollinating bees

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