Bombus alpinus 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Arthropoda Insecta Hymenoptera Apidae

Scientific Name: Bombus alpinus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Apis alpina Linnaeus, 1758
Bombus helleri Dalla Torre, 1882
Bombus helleri var. collaris Dalla Torre, 1882

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable B2b(i,ii,iii,v)c(iv) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2014-09-16
Assessor(s): Rasmont, P., Roberts, S., Cederberg, B., Radchenko, V. & Michez, D.
Reviewer(s): Williams, P. & Bilz, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Nieto, A.
Global and European regional assessment: Vulnerable (VU)
EU 27 regional assessment: Vulnerable (VU)

Listed as Vulnerable, because although the known area of occupancy (AOO) is 1,288 km², it is believed that the species occupies a larger area, though less than 2,000 km². There is a continuing decline in the extent of occurrence, the area of occupancy, the extent and quality of the habitat and the number of mature individuals, especially in the southern mountains due to climate change. The species is experiencing extreme fluctuations in the number of mature individuals.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:All the species of the subgenus Alpinobombus are restricted to the northern tundra or the higher alpine stages of some mountains. Among them, the best known is Bombus alpinus. Whereas the three other west-Palearctic Alpinobombus species are restricted to the Arctic tundra and spread eastwards to the tundra of northern Russia, Balpinus is not found east of the Kola Peninsula (Pittioni 1942), but spreads southwards to the alpine regions of the Alps and the Carpathians. The extent of occurrence (EOO) is  3,711,722 km² and the area of occupancy (AOO) is 1,288 km².
Countries occurrence:
Austria; Finland; France (France (mainland)); Germany; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Norway; Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia, North European Russia); Sweden; Switzerland
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:1288
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]


A boreal-alpine species favouring higher altitudes. Decreasing in both the Alps and probably also in Fennoscandia. No recent records from the Carpathians. The species is susceptible to severe fluctuations in abundance (B. Cederberg pers. comm. 2012).

Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A species of open situations in alpine regions. In the northern parts of its range, it is found in subalpine mountain meadows (Finland), Salix biotopes, Vaccinium heaths and mountain meadows and tundra (Norway).

Pollen analysis of nest contents of a Norwegian nest show the species is polylectic, collecting pollen from Salix (Salicaceae); Vaccinium uliginosus (Ericaceae); Lotus corniculatus (Fabaceae); and Pedicularis sp. (Orobanchaceae) (Løken 1973).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

This species is not traded or exploited commercially.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Southern mountain populations are threatened by climate change. This is likely to cause a decline in the amount of suitable habitat available (Manino et al. 2007, Franzen and Ockinger 2011, Franzen and Molander 2012, B. Cederberg pers. comm. 2013, Rasmont et al. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

The species is not subject to any targeted conservation action.

Further research is required to establish the current status of the species in European Russia and Ukraine and to identify the existing threats. It occurs in protected areas.

Classifications [top]

4. Grassland -> 4.1. Grassland - Tundra
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.2. Grassland - Subarctic
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.1. Habitat shifting & alteration
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Whole (>90%) ♦ severity:Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score:Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats

Bibliography [top]

Franzén, M. and Molander, M. 2012. How threatened are alpine environments? a cross taxonomic study. Biodiversity Conservation 21: 517-526.

Franzén, M. and Ockinger, E. 2011. Climate-driven changes in pollinator assemblages during the last 60 years in an Arctic mountain region in Northern Scandinavia. Journal of insect conservation 16: 227-238.

Goulson, D., Lye, G.C. and Darvil, B. 2008. Decline and conservation of bumble bees. Annual Review of Entomology 53: 11.1–11.18.

IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.1. Available at: (Accessed: 28 May 2015).

Løken, A. 1973. Studies on Scandinavian Bumble Bees (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Norsk entomologisk Tidsskrift 20(1): 1-218.

Manino, A., Patetta, A., Porporato, M., Quaranta, M., Intoppa, F., Piazza, M.G. and Frilli, F. 2007. Bumblebee (Bombus Latreille, 1802) distribution in high mountains and global warming. Redia 90: 125-129.

Pittioni, B. 1942. Die boreoalpinen Hummeln und Schmarotzerhummeln (Hymen., Apidae, Bombinae). I. Teil. Mitteilungen aus den Königlichen Naturwissenschaftlichen Instituten in Sofia 15: 155-218.

Rasmont, P. and Iserbyt, I. 2010-2012. Atlas of the European Bees: genus Bombus. STEP Project. Atlas Hymenoptera. Mons Available at:

Rasmont, P. and Iserbyt, S. 2012. The Bumblebees Scarcity Syndrome: Are heat waves leading to local extinctions of bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Bombus)? Annales de la Société entomologique de France (N.S.) 48(3-4): 275-280.

Rasmont, P., Franzen, M., Lecocq, T., Harpke, A., Castro, L., Cederberg, B., Dvořák, L., Fitzpatrick, U., Gonseth, Y., Haubruge, E., Mahé, G., Manino, A., Neumayer, J., Ødegaard, F., Paukkunen, J., Pawlikowski, T., Reemer, M., Roberts, S.P.M., Straka, J. and Schweiger, O. 2014. Climatic Risk Atlas of European Bumblebees. Pensoft publishing, Sofia (in prep.).

Williams, P.H., Colla, S.R. and Xie, Z. 2009. Bumblebee vulnerability: common correlates of winners and losers across three continents. Conservation Biology 23: 931-940.

Citation: Rasmont, P., Roberts, S., Cederberg, B., Radchenko, V. & Michez, D. 2015. Bombus alpinus. In: . The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T13152906A57047934. . Downloaded on 22 June 2018.
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