STATES CHRONICLE – We would never expect climate change to have anything to do with the length of our tongues. Or the length of other species’ tongues, as a matter of fact. Yet, some bees have shorter tongues to survive global warming, according to the findings of a new study.
When they first decided to study the evolution of bumblebees on the Rocky Mountains, scientists never expected to witness the complete transformation of this species. And yet, they have learnt that some bees are smart enough to adapt to the surrounding environment and thus, find food even when global warming makes it almost impossible for them to survive.
Researchers at the State University of New York, Old Westbury have compared various data since the 1960s and discovered that plants have suffered significant changes. Most flowers that are specific for this region have become smaller than they used to be 40 years ago. The ensuing question was how this affected the species living on the Rocky Mountains?
Based on the collected data, bees seem to be the most affected by this environmental change. They were forced to develop shortened tongues to better collect pollen from the smaller plants. Researchers assume bumblebees could have pollinized flowers with longer tongues, as well, but that wouldn’t have been energy efficient for them.
Weight can have a big influence on bees’ flight, more specifically, it can change their direction and cause them to travel at much lower speeds. Long tongues involved a much bigger effort on behalf of the flying creatures and since they didn’t really need them anymore, they simply decided to go with the shorter versions.
According to Nicole Miller-Struttmann, the lead author of the research, this new finding is great news because it proves that bees have a very big adaptability. They can alter their physical traits to keep the pace with the surrounding environment. And this only in 40 years.
On the other hand, the discovery should warn people of the effects of global warming on Earth’s species. This is the first evidence that climate change is causing real physical changes in bees and other genera.
Image source: www.wunderground.com