Functional Mismatch In A Bumble Bee Pollination Mutualism Under Climate Change

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dr.. Jennifer C. Geib, Associate Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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Abstract: Ecological partnerships, or mutualisms, are globally widespread, sustaining agriculture and biodiversity. Mutualisms evolve through the matching of functional traits between partners, such as tongue length of pollinators and flower tube depth of plants. Long-tongued pollinators specialize on flowers with deep corolla tubes, whereas shorter-tongued pollinators generalize across tube lengths. Losses of functional guilds because of shifts in global climate may disrupt mutualisms and threaten partner species. We found that in two alpine bumble bee species, decreases in tongue length have evolved over 40 years. Co-occurring flowers have not become shallower, nor are small-flowered plants more prolific. We argue that declining floral resources because of warmer summers have favored generalist foraging, leading to a mismatch between shorter-tongued bees and the longer-tubed plants they once pollinated.

Additional Information

Miller-Struttman, N., Geib, J., Franklin, J., Kevan, P., Holdo, R., Ebert-May, D., Lynn, A., Kettenbach, J., Hedrick, E., & Galen, C. (2015). Functional mismatch in a bumble bee pollination mutualism under climate change, Science, Vol. 349, Issue 6255, pp. 1541-1544. DOI: 10.1126/science.aab0868. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2015
mutualism, Long-tongued pollinators, shorter-tongued pollinators, bumble bee, climate change, pollination, pollinators

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