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Trends Ecol Evol. 2017 Apr;32(4):268-278. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.009. Epub 2017 Jan 19.

Why Bees Are So Vulnerable to Environmental Stressors.

Author information

1
Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research(CNRS), University Paul Sabatier(UPS), Toulouse, France; Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
2
Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research(CNRS), University Paul Sabatier(UPS), Toulouse, France.
3
Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW, Australia.
4
Research Center on Animal Cognition, Center for Integrative Biology, National Center for Scientific Research(CNRS), University Paul Sabatier(UPS), Toulouse, France. Electronic address: mathieu.lihoreau@univ-tlse3.fr.

Abstract

Bee populations are declining in the industrialized world, raising concerns for the sustainable pollination of crops. Pesticides, pollutants, parasites, diseases, and malnutrition have all been linked to this problem. We consider here neurobiological, ecological, and evolutionary reasons why bees are particularly vulnerable to these environmental stressors. Central-place foraging on flowers demands advanced capacities of learning, memory, and navigation. However, even at low intensity levels, many stressors damage the bee brain, disrupting key cognitive functions needed for effective foraging, with dramatic consequences for brood development and colony survival. We discuss how understanding the relationships between the actions of stressors on the nervous system, individual cognitive impairments, and colony decline can inform constructive interventions to sustain bee populations.

KEYWORDS:

brain functions; central-place foraging; cognition; environmental stressors; pesticides; pollinators

PMID:
28111032
DOI:
10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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