Plants and bees keep up with climate change where birds don’t?

Readers may recall last week when I highlighted a press release that said Birds apparently can’t outfly climate change. It seemed ridiculous and there were many questionable claims in that work. Now from Cornell University  we have this today:

As climate change sets in, plants and bees keep pace

ITHACA, N.Y. — No laggards, those bees and plants.

As warm temperatures due to climate change encroach winter, bees and plants keep pace.

An analysis of bee collection data over the past 130 years shows that spring arrives about 10 days earlier than in the 1880s, and bees and flowering plants have kept pace by arriving earlier in lock-step. The study also found that most of this shift has occurred since 1970, when the change in mean annual temperature has increased most rapidly, according to Bryan Danforth, Cornell professor of entomology, who co-authored a study published the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Dec. 5, 2011.)

“It’s an illustration of how valuable our natural history collections are at Cornell, even if you don’t know in advance how these collections might be used,” says Danforth. Lead author Ignasi Bartomeus and senior author Rachael Winfree are both entomologists at Rutgers University.

Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days, but “if climate change accelerates the way it is expected to, we don’t know if bees will continue to keep up,” says Danforth.

###

Co-authors include researchers from the American Museum of Natural History, University of Connecticut, and York University in Canada. Jason Gibbs, a Cornell postdoctoral associate, conducted and supervised a team of undergraduates entering bee data at Cornell.

This research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the American Museum of Natural History.

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42 Responses to Plants and bees keep up with climate change where birds don’t?

  1. rwct says:

    I hope the Bees come out early and sting all the Warmists on their a$$e$

  2. pat says:

    This is what happens when ‘scientists’ throw everything at a wall. It ain’t art.

  3. cirby says:

    See, there’s the thing.

    For over a century now, we’ve been told that insects like moths can change their color over the course of a couple of generations in response to environmental pressures exerted by man. Moths that are mostly light-colored become dark-colored ones in an evolutionary moment (20 years or so), to blend in with trees that are blackened by soot. All well and good – a large change in a short period, but fine.

    However… we’re now being told that the same sort of critter that can make such a radical change in response to local evolutionary pressures cannot make a much smaller change over the course of 50 or 100 years – even though the change is well within the temperature range each individual insect or plant sees over the course of a normal day.

    Ditto for fish: we’re being told that small changes in temperature and pH will doom many fish and coral species. This is interesting, because any fish or coral or algae in the sea will see much larger changes over the course of minutes or even seconds, and they seem to be doing fine.

  4. Suzanne says:

    The National Audubon Society makes a big deal about the changes seen in the ranges in bird sightings, blaming most of the the changes on “Climate Change”. Of course they are completely oblivious to the effects of changing land use, changing food suppies from agriculture and changes in programs like “Crow shoots”. They are also totally ignorant of the fact that according to our NOAA there has been a cooling trend the past 15 years in the United States. Its hard to blame something on global warming when it hasn’t warmed.

  5. edeck says:

    Title should read ” Plants, bees and golfers keep up with climate change—”
    I am at a golf club an hour north of Toronto and we also have seven hives that one of our staff who has been a beekeeper all his life looks after. We got the hives for some fun and to show that a golf course can respect nature and also use pesticides wisely. Bees are very intolerant to many pesticides so they could assumed to be the “canary in the mine”. No problem this year’s harvest was well in excess of 200 pounds per hive(anything above 100lbs/hive is good).

    Bees come out when days are longer and temps increase. Golfers do the same and become rampant when the snow is finally gone. After a few days the golfers get on your nerves because the course still not ready for play and you tire of endless explanation and hope for snow!

  6. Al Gored says:

    It is a well known fact among top climastrolobiobotanists that plants always move faster than birds.
    Now, finally, we have indisputable proof published by the prestigious PNAS.

    And from Cornell, no less. The same people who pumped the entirely bogus ‘rediscovery’ of the still extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker a while back.

    The thirst for research dollars combined with the gross oversupply of professional planet savers has entirely corrupted most aspects of environmental science. This is yet another example of the worst of that, the missionary pseudoscience conveniently called ‘Conservation Biology,’ which is worse than even IPCC Climastrology.

  7. Jay Davis says:

    “Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days,”

    Shouldn’t you nail down what conditions trigger bee spring emergence first? And what happens if the climate changes in the opposite direction, colder that is?

    And by the way, the flowers came out later the last two years here in Churchville, Md. Is this evidence of an impending ice age?

  8. edeck says:

    Should have said:”Bees golfers and bears–” Had a big black bear show up in September and raid ed our hives which we moved to a safe location. Now the question is how to you tell golfers that there is a bear near the 13th tee without causing alarm! Once it got cold bear goes to sleep and wakes up when it warms up. Simple…eh?

  9. Al Gored says:

    Suzanne says:
    December 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    “The National Audubon Society makes a big deal about the changes seen in the ranges in bird sightings, blaming most of the the changes on “Climate Change”. Of course they are completely oblivious to the effects of changing land use, changing food suppies from agriculture and changes in programs like “Crow shoots”.”

    Yes. To think I used to be a long time member of that before they started on the Kool-Aid.

    Along with what you noted they choose to ignore, more significantly there are a) far, far more birders now seeing and reporting ‘early’ and ‘late’ and out-of-normal range birds that nobody noticed before; and b) bird feeders, which have definitely enabled the extension of some bird ranges further north or/and allowed them to winter further north. They also choose to ignore many, many historical changes that don’t fit their chosen story.

  10. Sal Minella says:

    When did they arrive in the 1320s and the 1950s and the 500s BC?

  11. Urederra says:

    Question.

    Is there any difference between rural bees and urban bees? Because last time I checked, most of the warming was happening in urban areas.

    Or they have used computer generated bees for the study?

    /sarc

  12. davidmhoffer says:

    Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days, >>>

    Good lord, bees become active when it becomes warm? Wow, that’s like, …who would’ve even thought something like that up? Hey, do you suppose the plants start growing based on the same thing? Like, holy cow, think about the implications! If the bees become active on the same trigger that the plants become active, that could be how nature regulates the activity of bees to make sure they become active when it is time to polinate the plants! This is an incredible discovery!

    They should run right out and explain how this works to farmers. I bet those farmers are planting their crops at random, hoping that they’ll grow. With this discovery, now all the farmers will know that they should plant their crops in the spring when it becomes warm enough for the seeds to germinate and grow!

    Good god, do you know what these scientists have discovered?

    NOTHING.

  13. RoHa says:

    We’re doomed.

  14. Ed Reid says:

    Here in central NC, we have a federally protected bird called the chimney swift. It spends our late Spring, Summer and early Fall here, then migrates to Peru for our Winter. I find it difficult to imagine that this bird would not be able to outfly a decadal or multi-decadal increase in temperature, when it can fly from here to Peru and back annually to find suitable seasonal temperatures.

    Perhaps the birds which cannot move fast enough are cuckoos, which require longer to move their clocks. :-)

  15. edeck said:
    December 12, 2011 at 2:52 pm
    … We got the hives…
    —————————-
    A rash statement!

  16. higley7 says:

    Spring 10 days earlier than 1880?
    “The study also found that most of this shift has occurred since 1970, when the change in mean annual temperature has increased most rapidly, ”
    But, it has since cooled and . . . .?

    This is easy. In the UK, they reported that Spring flowers arrive 2 weeks earlier than about 40 years ago, but their temperatures are not changed compared to then. What’s the deal?

    Plants are more temperature tolerant with more CO2! They can start to grow at lower temperatures in the Spring, thus earlier flowering for the bees, use less water (as their stomata numbers decrease), and utilize nutrients more efficiently. This also means that plants grow more during the spring and summer cool times and nights, meaning better crops for us. There’s really no downside to CO2.

    An elegant paper recently described the fact that CO2 takes up as well as distributes heat, acting as a two-way converter of IR to heat. NIirogen and oxygen gases, on the other hand, have no way to get rid of the heat (by radiating) they gain by conduction from the sunlit warmed surface of the planet. These are the true greenhouse gases, as once heated in a greenhouse, they can only lose heat by conduction.

    At night, CO2 serves as a leak point for the atmosphere’s heat to be converted to IR. This is probably a big part of the reason that CO2 is effectively saturated with IR and has little effect in warming, as it really leads to cooling.

    The elephant in the room is that the climate models do not do night time, during which there is no energy input but a lot of output. During the night, CO2 is an outright energy spigot, helping to cool the atmosphere. That’s the kind of bad models they get for starting with a model for stars and innocently altering it to pretend to be a planet. Stars have no night-time.

  17. Latitude says:

    Why are the bees emerging earlier….when temperatures have been going down?

    It’s the scientists that are still regurgitating old data………………

  18. beng says:

    ****
    Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days,
    ****

    That’s bullcrap, if they’re talking about domesticated honeybees (I kept a hive at one time). They immediately come out in the middle of the winter if the temps are warm enough (say >60F). It was important for them to houseclean the hive in winter whenever there was a brief opportunity.

  19. Theo Goodwin says:

    As someone who grew up on a working farm, I would like to share with climate scientists, so-called, a smattering of ancient farming terms that are used by all farmers in temperate zones:

    Early Spring. Late Spring. Cool Spring. Wet Spring. Dry Spring. False Spring. (There is no “Warm Spring” as the phenomenon is encompassed in “Early Spring.”)

    A Late, Cool, Dry Spring is disaster.

    An Early, Wet Spring is ideal.

    A False Spring occurs when a very early warm spell causes trees to bud very early and their buds are killed by a normal frost. That is not a pretty sight and its effects last throughout the summer.

    Farmers might say “We had an Early Spring.” No farmer has ever said “We will have an Early Spring.” The reason for this is that one cannot know from one year to the next what the good Lord will do with spring.

    Farmers might say “We have had three Early Springs in a row.” Yet that farmer will not say that there will be an Early Spring next year.

    If you tell a farmer that bees are getting out and about ten days earlier each year, he will respond with “Yeah, and you can drown in a creek that is one foot deep on the average.”

  20. Jimbo says:

    Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days, but “if climate change accelerates the way it is expected to, we don’t know if bees will continue to keep up,” says Danforth.

    Keep up with what? Warm weather? Bees come out in warm weather and hate the cold. In the meantime global warming climate change is doing the opposite or very little of what we were promised. In the meantime the climate changes as it has always done.

  21. Brian H says:

    Birds are quite good at adjusting. Why, I read somewheres that the long migration routes many follow are the result of continental drift shifting the endpoints of their habitats! They liked the setups, and stuck with them through hemisphere-spanning changes in climate.

  22. beng said:
    December 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    “That’s bullcrap, if they’re talking about domesticated honeybees (I kept a hive at one time). They immediately come out in the middle of the winter if the temps are warm enough (say >60F). It was important for them to houseclean the hive in winter whenever there was a brief opportunity.”

    I spent 3 years studying bees, with a professor who has raised them for another 20, if the temperature is dry and in the 60s or higher the bees will be out, if its wet the temp goes up until rain in which they stay in the hives and become angry little bees that want to kill you. I cannot speak to the qualities of native bees but they have become a minor player in the overall pollination scheme compared to European bees. Even without flowering plants available the bees will gather the various saps used to make propolis, salt, water, and in an adaptation to humanity sugar mostly from things in the garbage like that last bit of soda in the can.

  23. davidmhoffer says:

    Theo Goodwin says:
    December 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm
    As someone who grew up on a working farm…>>>

    Well said.

    I cannot believe that some city slicker with a PhD just theorized that bees may become active when the temperature gets to a certain point. The trouble with scientists that grew up in a city, studied in a city, and research climate from the safety of a library is that they have no idea just how totaly divorced they are from the simplest of realities that the average farmer deals with year in and year out. They actually seem to think they have “discovered” something that “may” be the cause.

    Send ‘em all for five years hard labour on a mixed farm. THEN let them write studies based on tree rings, and bees, and crop circles.

  24. polistra says:

    First thing that hits my eyes: 1970 is when air conditioning became common in Eastern cities, and it’s also when soot pollution began to fade out.

    If the bees are mostly near urban areas, the study is mostly about UHI and clear sky.

  25. crosspatch says:

    From 1910 to 1940 in the continental US annual temperatures rose at a trend of 0.45 degF / Decade
    From 1970 to 2000 the rise was 0.54 degF / Decade ok, so, lets see if there were any major differences in seasonal temperature changes that might account for a difference in the arrival of Spring (wonder what they used as their definition of arrival of spring, though)

    Spring trend:
    1910-1940 0.25 degF / Decade
    1970-2000 0.52 degF / Decade

    Summer trend:
    1910-1940 0.66 degF / Decade
    1970-2000 0.22 degF / Decade

    Fall trend:
    1910-1940 0.25 degF / Decade
    1970-2000 0.33 degF / Decade

    Winter trend:
    1910-1940 0.65 degF / Decade
    1970-2000 1.16 degF / Decade

    So temperatures for the early rise were more evenly divided between the seasons with most of the rise coming about evenly in summer and winter with much less rise in fall and spring.

    Temperatures for the later rise come mostly in winter and spring with relatively little rise in summer and fall temperatures. So it makes sense that we would see spring arrive earlier.

    Since 2000 we are seeing annual temperatures changing at a rate of -0.70 degF / Decade

    Spring -0.82 degF / Decade
    Summer -0.14 degF / Decade
    Fall 0.60 degF / Decade
    Winter -2.70 degF / Decade

    Most of the current change is in Winter and Spring with very little change in summer temperatures and warming fall. So I would expect Spring to have begun arriving later the last few years and that matches my experience with my plum trees. They bloom now about a week or two later than they did in the late 1990′s. Winters are getting much colder in the US over the past 10 years, though.

  26. crosspatch says:

    So in reference to my above comment, what people who are more closely tuned to their weather conditions (farmers, gardeners, etc) over MOST of the US (with the exception of the Northeast) should be noticing is:

    No great change in Summer high temperatures but “Indian summers” with fall coming later. Colder winters than usual lasting longer with a late spring thaw.

  27. crosspatch says:

    This data could be very regional. I noticed the study comes from Ithaca, NY. The Northeast has been experiencing different weather than the rest of the US due to circulation changes. They have been getting generally milder weather but I don’t know the seasonal distribution of the temperature change, just that the Northeast is bucking the national trend.

  28. I don’t think that the conclusion that birds don’t adapt to climate change is correct. As I noted in an earlier post here was a fall in temperature along the Eastern Seaboard of about 4 deg Fahrenheit between 1950 and 1965, due to changes in the AMO. Checking the individual state records for the Black Capped Chickadee (the MA state bird) as the temperature fell the birds migrated South, Northern state populations fell and they started appearing for the first time in North Carolina. As temperatures picked back up over the past 30 years the original population densities were restored.

    It turns out that the population does appear somewhat sensitive to temperature with maximum populations occurring in a relatively narrow temperature range, but that is another story.

  29. crosspatch says:

    I would say migration isn’t taken into account often enough. We have already seen that with other species that have “gone missing” only to appear in a different location with a changed migration pattern. These people perform a census by checking the same places as previous years, note a population change and assume the entire species has undergone that change. Well, maybe not. Or maybe a predator species has increased in the area. A lack of cod in an area, for example, might mean an abundance of bluefish which has scattered the cod.

  30. pat says:

    Everyone knows birds walk when the temperature is above 72F.

  31. J. Felton says:

    Personally wouldnt mind seeing less seagulls.

    So would the hood of my car, for that matter.

  32. J. Felton says:

    Crosspatch hits the nail on the head with this comment

    ‘I would say migration isn’t taken into account often enough. We have already seen that with other species that have “gone missing” only to appear in a different location with a changed migration pattern.”

    * * *

    Exactly what biologists cant seem to figure out.
    Up here in BC, we had a large decline in salmon in the Fraser river one year. People screamed ” It’s Global warming” and started to panic, worrying about about how we destroyed the stocks.
    The next year set all-time records as millions of salmon came rushing back, and in greater numbers. ( Insert Star Wars joke here.)

    Even after two ” inquiries” they were forced to admit they had no idea why the salmon took the year off.
    There is still so much we don’t know about animal behavior and migration patterns.

  33. crosspatch says:

    Up here in BC, we had a large decline in salmon in the Fraser river one year.

    I don’t remember a lot of national press about the recent salmon runs in Oregon that were the largest ever in recorded history, either. Looks like things are set to go gangbusters for next year’s run, too:

    http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/dec/12/big-spring-chinook-run-forecast-columbia-river/

    That’s after some exceptional runs this year:

    http://news.opb.org//article/cowlitz_silver_salmon_run_could_set_record/

    The Atlantic salmon seem to be doing pretty well in some places, too

    http://www.marketwatch.com/story/winooski-river-fishway-has-a-record-salmon-spawning-run-2011-11-22

    Some of these runs aren’t just “good”, they are the best ever in recorded history but you will never hear that on the national media because the idea in the national media is to tell people that the natural environment is constantly deteriorating. Ask people someone outside the local area what they think salmon runs of today compared to 50 years ago are and I would be willing to bet they would believe they are most likely smaller. Nobody hears that we have more salmon than ever in many of these rivers.

  34. Twodogs says:

    Birds being unable to escape temperature changes is a bit like being unable to outrun rising sea levels of 0.1mm per annum.

  35. John Marshall says:

    The BBC has a program called Countryfile, another alarmist show with some country news. On it there was an interview with a Dr Tim Rich of the Natural Museum Wales who claimed that small alpine flowers growing in Snowdonia were in danger from a 2C temperature rise because they ‘have nowhere to go’ since they were already at the top of the mountain. Never mind that these same alpines grow in Switzerland where summer temperatures frequently exceed ours in the UK and that these plants survived previous warm periods when temperatures were higher than now.

    I have emailed Dr Rich a question about this but so far no reply. I am not holding my breath.

  36. Allan M says:

    J. Felton says:
    December 12, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Up here in BC, we had a large decline in salmon in the Fraser river one year. People screamed ” It’s Global warming” and started to panic, worrying about about how we destroyed the stocks.
    The next year set all-time records as millions of salmon came rushing back, and in greater numbers. ( Insert Star Wars joke here.)

    I remember, about 20yrs ago in the UK, we couldn’t drive more than a few hundred yards without passing a flat hedgehog. Now it’s a rare sight. Must have been the evil motorists targeting the poor creatures (BBC Version).

    On the hills where I live, two springs ago, the place was covered in foxgloves. This year the numbers were far lower; it was the turn of the rose-bay willow herb to flourish.

    There is no ‘balance of nature,’ delicate or otherwise.

    But when we are dealing with greenies who can believe that plants can fly faster than birds, observations are futile.

  37. Pete in Cumbria UK says:

    Maybe a dumb question but, which ‘spring flowers’ are they looking at?
    In this part of the world, ‘spring’ is kinda defined by when daffodils, narcissii, snowdrops etc emerge.
    But lots of these are sold as cut flowers and plant breeders are constantly trying to get them to flower earlier and earlier so as to command a premium price.
    So, just wonderin’, these folks ain’t confusing plant breeding advances with climate change by any chance?

  38. Aussie says:

    As a non-scientist, I am wondering if the people coming up with these conclusions e.g. that “It’s global warming” if salmon do not appear one year, are incapable of getting beyond a base idea.

    What I am getting at here is that they do not seem to have a concept beyond their own expectations.

    A good example this year was the balmy weather that we had in Canberra at the beginning of August. I would have simply called it an early spring, or perhaps just a sign of what might be coming. However a radio personality who has never experienced Canberra weather before started rabbiting on about “climate change” being the cause of those few balmy days. Well, since then, the weather has been anything but balmy for several months, and here we are in summer with a morning temperature of 6C.

  39. TimTheToolMan says:

    “Although the triggers for bee spring emergence are unknown, bees may simply be cued to emerge when temperatures rise above a threshold over a number of days, but “if climate change accelerates the way it is expected to, we don’t know if bees will continue to keep up,” says Danforth.”

    How exactly does it follow that if bees respond to a certain threshold temperature, then bringing that temperature foward, they wont be able to respond? Either we’re missing a vital part of the reasoning in this report of his press release or he clearly needs lots more money to come up with that reasoning pronto.

  40. Gary Pearse says:

    but “if climate change accelerates the way it is expected to, we don’t know if bees will continue to keep up,” says Danforth.

    What a bunch of dishonest people. If you get a few years in a row of warming this is a trend to Armageddon, but if you get a 130 year trend of bees and plants adapting you are not sure they will continue to do so. Let a geologist/engineer help you botanists and entymologists out. Plants of a given species generally cover wide swaths of latitude – hey even longitude: I saw what appeared to be the same birch trees, scotch thistle, dandelions, clover, etc. etc in Ukraine as I’ve seen in Canada and a large part of the US. Pretty much the same bees are operating in North America at least. If Tennessee were to start its spring 30 days later, then their similar plants and bees would wake up the same time they do in Ontario. You-all should be ashamed of yourselves. Oh, and a little more help for you entymologists, the bees like more than one kind of flower so they are already adapted even more than you thought.

  41. > I cannot believe that some city slicker with a PhD just theorized that bees may become active when the temperature gets to a certain point. The trouble with scientists that grew up in a city

    Hey! Do you know where Ithaca even is? It’s all farm country and forests up here. We’ve got real birds and bees to study. This isn’t some Central Park naturalist spouting off on the way to Starbucks.

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