Delving deeper: Questioning the decline of long-tongued bumble bees, long-tubed flowers and their mutualisms with climate change
Miller-Struttmann et al. (2015) suggest that, in a North American alpine ecosystem, reduced flower abundance due to climate change has driven the evolution of shorter tongues in two bumble bee species. We accept the evidence that tongue length has decreased, but are unconvinced by the adaptive explanation offered. It posits foraging responses and competitive relationships not seen in other studies and interprets phenotypic change as evidence of evolutionary adaptation. By oversimplifying a complex phenomenon, it may exaggerate the potential for bees to quickly adapt to environmental changes.
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