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Paul Williams and Nadia Bystriakova, Department of Life Sciences, NHM


Wednesday 7 May 11:00


Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)



The region encompassing the Tibetan plateau and its fringing mountains above 3000 covers an area one third the size of Europe or the USA. Although still poorly known, it includes the greatest hotspot of diversity world-wide forr bumblebees, which are among the most important pollinators in temperate ecosystems. 


We describe variation in alpine bumblebee faunas across the plateau and identify three principal faunas.  The eastern and southern faunas in wetter habitats appear to be closer to equilibrium with climate factors, whereas some western faunas in more arid habitats appear further from equilibrium, at least with the measured climate factors.  We suggest that these western faunas may depend on highly localised factors for mitigating the measured aridity, particularly on streams with continuous summer melt water from permanent glaciers.  This identifies a likely new conservation threat to these major pollinators within this region, from climate change and the consequent loss of glaciers causing a sudden loss of habitat, that has not previously been of major concern for bumblebee conservation elsewhere.


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