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Belgian Red List of Bees
Abstract and Figures
The Belgian Red List of bees is an assessment of the conservation status of Belgian bee species according to the IUCN guidelines for application of the international IUCN Red List criteria at regional and national levels. It identifies the extinction threat to species at this geographical scale. These results can be used to implement conservation actions to improve the threat status of species. This Red List publication summarizes the results of this exercise for all recorded Belgian bees. Overall, 32.8% of bees (i.e. 113 species) are considered threatened in Belgium. Considering the Near Threatened (i.e. 26 species; 6.8%) and Regionally Extinct (i.e. 45 species; 11.8%) bees, the present study suggests that more than half (i.e. 53.3%) of the assessed species (i.e. 184 species) are (nearly) threatened or extinct in Belgium. A further 42.3% of bees (i.e. 161 species) are considered as Least Concern. Out of a total of 403 bee species that are recorded for Belgium, 22 species that were observed only once in a single specimen were assigned to the category Not Applicable (NA). It is unclear whether they ever had a population in Belgium. Consequently, they are considered as absent of the country. Another 36 species (i.e. 9.4%) were classified as Data Deficient, as there was not enough information to assess their risk of extinction. Considering the functional traits possibly associated with extinction risk, there is no major difference between opportunistic and specialised bees in threat status in Belgium. Besides a similar proportion of threatened species (i.e. 31-36%) among the three categories of sociality, (primitively) eusocial bees include a higher proportion of extinct species (i.e. 21.7%). Moreoever, bumblebees constitute the most impacted group with near 60% of Threatened or Near Threatened species as well as 20% of Regionally Extinct species. Finally, ground-nesting bees are more threatened (i.e. 32.5%) compared to bees nesting in existing cavities above ground (i.e. 23.6%), bees with specific nesting behaviours showing highly variable proportion of threatened species. Regarding the spatial distribution of bees, the highest species richness is found in (i) the Condroz and Fagne-Famenne-Calestienne as well as Gaume regions, (ii) the Brussels-Capital area as well as Hageland and Droog Haspengouw, (iii) the sandy Flanders and (iv) the eastern Campine. Local diversity hotspots are found in particular habitats like calcareous grassland and heathlands. Southeastern Belgium, Hageland and Droog Haspengouw and Campine as well as the coastal dunes and East canton, present a high diversity of threatened species. The main threats identified in the literature are habitat loss and fragmentation due to agricultural intensification (e.g. changes in agricultural practices including the use of fertilisers and pesticides) and urban development, as well as climate change. Attention must be paid to the 9.4% of Data Deficient species for which a taxonomic impediment was encountered. For these, revisions of historical and present collections as well as an increase in taxonomic expertise and training among wild bee volunteers is necessary to resolves these impediments.
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