The potential impact of global warming on the efficacy of field margins sown for the conservation of bumble-bees

Jane Memmott, Claire Carvell, Richard F. Pywell, Paul G. Craze


Climate change is expected to drive species extinct by reducing their survival, reproduction and habitat. Less well appreciated is the possibility that climate change could cause extinction by changing the ecological interactions between species. If ecologists, land managers and policy makers are to manage farmland biodiversity sustainably under global climate change, they need to understand the ways in which species interact with each other as this will affect the way they respond to climate change. Here, we consider the ability of nectar flower mixtures used in field margins to provide sufficient forage for bumble-bees under future climate change. We simulated the effect of global warming on the network of plant–pollinator interactions in two types of field margin: a four-species pollen and nectar mix and a six-species wildflower mix. While periods without flowering resources and periods with no food were rare, curtailment of the field season was very common for the bumble-bees in both mixtures. The effect of this, however, could be ameliorated by adding extra species at the start and end of the flowering season. The plant species that could be used to future-proof margins against global warming are discussed.

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