Here’s a scary thing. The temperature rise due to climate change is making bees start flying earlier in the spring, before flowers have bloomed, and that makes pollination less likely. Guess what pollination is necessary for – food production. Hello famine. (There’s also the horror of shrinking snow pack in the Himalayas, which will cut the water flow to the massive rivers in Asia that originate in that snow pack.) This story is just one particular bee and one plant – the miner bee and the early spider orchid – but if the pattern applies elsewhere, well – that’s ominous.
“We have shown that plants and their pollinators show different responses to climate change and that warming will widen the timeline between bees and flowers emerging,” said Dr Karen Robbirt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the University of East Anglia (UEA). “If replicated in less specific systems, this could have severe implications for crop productivity.”
And if crop productivity goes down, we’re all in deep shit.
Scientists have already identified a few timing mismatches caused by global warming between species and their prey. Oak tree buds are eaten by winter moths, whose caterpillars are in turn fed by great tits to their chicks, but the synchronicity of all these events has been disrupted.
Suspected mismatches have occurred between sea birds and fish, such as puffins and herring and guillemots and sand eels. The red admiral butterfly and the stinging nettle, one of its host plants, are also getting out of sync.