Bumblebee Set to Become Officially Endangered
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has proposed listing a species of bumblebee as an endangered species, the first bee species to be granted such federal protection in the continental United States.
The rusty patched bumblebee – the workers of which can be identified by a small rust-colored mark on the middle of their second abdominal segment – was historically widespread along the east coast of North America, from Quebec down to Georgia, and across much of the midwest as far west as the Dakotas. However, says USFWS, since the late 1990s, the species’ numbers have decreased precipitously, and its range is now a mere 8 percent of its historical extent.
According to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, the bee faces numerous threats from disease, pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change. The society says that the species’ recent decline — and that of other, closely related, bumblebees — was likely initiated by the spread of pathogens from commercial bees (which are raised and sold to pollinate greenhouse tomatoes and other crops) into the wild population.
Additionally, there’s concern over the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides within the species’ range. These insecticides have been implicated in declines of other bee species and were introduced around the time that the rusty patched bumblebee entered its downward spiral.
Rare frog goes extinct
A rare tree frog — the last documented member of a species relatively new to science — has died at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
The body of the Rabbs’ fringe-limbed tree frog was discovered in its enclosure Monday morning during a routine daily health inspection.
n 2005, the three groups sent a team of scientists to Panama to collect live animals before a disease called chytridiomycosis struck the area. Among the frogs they brought back to Atlanta was a species of tree frogs (Ecnomiohyla rabborum) that hadn’t been seen before. Identified in 2005 by Zoo Atlanta herpetology curator Joseph Mendelson, it was later named for conservationists George and Mary Rabb. In time, the disease did arrive in Panama, and many of the frogs disappeared.
Swarms of invasive comb jellyfish threaten to devastate fish stocks in the Adriatic Sea.
While not dangerous to humans, population blooms of the jellies have devastated fisheries in the Black Sea.
The invaders arrived in oil tanker ballast waters from the Atlantic off North America in 1982, then spread rapidly without any natural enemies.
Since then, they have cost the seafood industry billions of dollars as they spread from the Black Sea to the Caspian and Baltic seas, and now the Adriatic.