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Plight of the bumble bees: York U researcher launches comprehensive guide to North American fauna

Photo of worker bee

TORONTO, April 22, 2014 – With recent studies indicating that bumble bees are in decline in North America, the collective spotlight is focused like never before on these industrious insects and the critical role they play in our ecosystems.

Now, Bumble Bees of North America, a new book co-authored by York University PhD graduate Sheila Colla, aims to shed light on the 46 bumble bee species found north of Mexico, their ecology and changing geographic landscape.

“This book compiles years of collaborative work, including the databasing of thousands of museum specimens and the most recent taxonomic findings from the ‘Barcoding the Bees of the World’ initiative lead by York U Professor Laurence Packer,” says Colla.

The book features color photographs, diagrams, range maps, and graphs of seasonal activity patterns, which Colla says will help both amateur and professional naturalists identify bumble bees, and learn what can be done to conserve them.

“By learning how important native bees are to our agriculture and sustainability of our native ecosystems, we can encourage local populations and save those species on the brink of extinction,” says Colla. “This book will help users keep an eye out for endangered species such as the rusty-patched bumble bee, a species previously common in southern Ontario.”

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 Media Contact: Robin Heron, Media Relations, York University, 416 736 2100 x22097/ rheron@yorku.ca