Saturday, December 30, 2017

What’s killing the world’s bees? New study claims a surprising culprit

What’s killing the world’s bees
Scientists have found what they believe to be the strongest factor leading to the worryingly steep decline of bumblebees… fungicides.

The discovery has now been added to the growing list of threats that could potentially lead to the extinction of the essential pollinators. The revelation that common fungicides are having the strongest impact on the insects came as a surprise, as they typically affect mold and mildew, but appear to be killing bees by making them more susceptible to the nosema parasite or by exacerbating the toxicity of other pesticides.

The discovery was made during a landscape-scale study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, which used machine learning technology to analyze 24 different factors and how they impacted four bumblebee species.

The study collected ‘subjects’ from 284 sites across 40 US states and tested them against various factors like latitude, elevation, habitat type and damage, human population and pesticide use.

For context, about 75 percent of the world’s crops are fertilized by pollinators. The widespread decline of bees has been attributed to a number of factors including pesticides, destruction of their habitats, disease and climate change, but until now it was unclear which was the most decisive factor.

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