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Scientists Identify 'Major' New Factor in Bumblebee Decline  

Scientists have identified a "major" new element contributing to the global fall in bumblebee populations. According to Environment America, bumblebee numbers have decreased by 90% during the last 20 years. 

Pesticide use and urban growth are just two of the many reasons that contribute to their decrease. However, climate change is perhaps the most important factor.  

The decline of bumblebees is quite alarming because they are essential to ecosystems. They pollinate crops and flowers. If population declines continue, crops will be unable to produce fruits and vegetables.   

Kevan and associates made the decision to investigate worldwide bumblebee population-related parameters in further detail. It is evident that many populations are in danger, but it is unclear what the single most important component is for all species. 

All bumblebee species can survive in temperatures as high as 36 degrees Celsius (96.8F), although the best range for nesting temperatures is between 28 and 32 degrees Celsius (82.4 and 89.6F). This finding was made after examining 180 years' worth of literature on the species.  

"Most animals and plants are more susceptible to injury from extremely high temperatures than from low ones.   

"It's surprising that not much research has been done on the impact of high nest temperatures," Kevan added in the release.   

"We can surmise that nest temperatures above the mid-30s Celsius would likely be highly detrimental and that above about 35 Celsius death would occur, probably quite quickly."  

Studies of honeybees, another critically endangered but vital species, have shown that elevated nest temperatures endanger the queen bee's health.