Researchers at York University have determined that the American Bumblebee, a species that can be found across Southern Ontario, is critically endangered and facing ‘imminent extinction’ in Canada – the highest and most at-risk classification before extinction.

“This species is at risk of extinction and it’s currently not protected in any way despite the drastic decline,” Sheila Colla, assistant professor in the faculty of environmental studies, says in a press release.

Colla’s research team, led by graduate student Victoria MacPhail and including a scientist from the University of Vermont, analyzed data from three sources and found that the American Bumblebee’s area of occurrence has decreased by 70 percent and its relative abundance fell by 89 percent from 2007-2016 compared to 1907-2006.

“This bumblebee species now has reduced overall range,” says MacPhail in the release.

The bees used to be found from Windsor, Ont. to Ottawa and into Quebec.

“It is now only found in some core areas and has experienced a 37 percent decrease in overall range,” she says.

Bees are important pollinators and integral to local ecosystems. Colla worries that the American Bumblebee will echo her previous findings on the Rusty-patched Bumblebee, which has not been seen in Canada for about 10 years and is also critically endangered.

“Now that we have assessed the extent of the decline we can look more closely…to design an effective conservation management plan so that this species does not disappear from Canada forever,” says Colla.