Long-term data shows increasing dominance of Bombus terrestris with climate warming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


While many bumblebee species decline due to climate and land-use changes, others cope well with contemporary conditions. One example is Bombus terrestris, which is common in intensively managed agricultural landscapes. During the 20th century its subgenus, which includes the B. lucorum complex (B. lucorum, B. cryptarum and B. magnus) came to dominate Scandinavian bumblebee communities, but the specific contribution of B. terrestris remains to be understood. Using historical data on males, we assessed how the relative abundances of B. terrestris and the B. lucorum complex changed over the past 150 years in southernmost Sweden. We tested if these changes differed between simplified and mixed landscapes and whether the relative abundance of B. terrestris was related to annual mean temperatures. Because floral availability has advanced as a response to climate change, we also tested if the activity period of males (estimated as catching date) has advanced and whether the advancement differs between taxa. The relative abundance of B. terrestris increased similarly in both landscapes, from 21% to 79% over the period, and this was largely explained by increasing temperature. Male activity period has advanced similarly in the two taxa, with 41 days between 1900 and 2015. Although the dominance of B. terrestris correlates clearly with annual mean temperature, it remains to disentangle why. It also remains to understand whether the success of B. terrestris occurs at the expense of other species or simply reflects that this species copes better with contemporary conditions.


External organisations
  • Lund University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology


  • Buff-tailed bumblebee, Global change, Landscape complexity, White-tailed bumblebee
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-123
Number of pages8
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication categoryResearch

Related activities

Herbertsson, L. (Interviewee), Persson, A. (Interviewee), Anna Maria Erling (Lyricist)
2021 Mar 23

Activity: OtherMedia participation

Herbertsson, L. (Interviewee), Anna Karolina Eriksson (Lyricist)
2021 Mar 18

Activity: OtherMedia participation

View all (2)