Multiple habitats need to be protected to save UK bumblebees, finds 10-year citizen science study – ScienceDaily


A study using 10 years of citizen science data from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s BeeWalk program has found that a variety of targeted conservation approaches are needed to protect British bumblebee species. The results are published by the British Ecological Society Journal of Applied Ecology.

Researchers from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Edinburgh have used 10 years of bumblebee abundance data collected by citizen scientists to provide the most detailed overview of UK bumblebee habitat requirements available.

Researchers found a variety of differences between bumblebee species in terms of the types of habitats they are associated with. This suggests that a one-size-fits-all approach to bumblebee conservation will not protect all species effectively and that conservation efforts need to be carefully tailored to specific species.

The study identified habitat types that could be candidates for bumblebee conservation. Arable land proved important for rare species such as the garden bumblebee (Bombus ruderatus), the largest species in the UK. Whereas large areas of semi-natural land, such as moorland, were important for several species such as themoos and the brown-banded cherry bee (Bombus muscorum and Bombus humilis) and the blueberry bumblebee (Bombus Monticola).

dr Penelope Whitehorn of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, who led the study, said: “Our results suggest that reversing the loss of semi-natural areas such as wetlands may be the most overall effective measure to protect bumblebees while improving habitats Urban and arable land could.” benefit certain rare species. As one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world, it is really important that we better protect our native species and habitats in the UK.”

Effective conservation requires a thorough knowledge of the needs of different species, which in turn depends on detailed habitat survey data. In this study, this data was provided by a long-standing citizen science project, which the researchers believe is essential both for collecting the data and for engaging the public in conservation.

dr Whitehorn said: “Our study underscores the value of citizen science in understanding bumblebees and their habitats. Citizen Science also gives everyone the opportunity to help protect these species.”

The study also identified differences in habitat association within bumblebee species. The queens and males of several species have been particularly associated with scrub, bracken and herb areas, suggesting these habitats are good for nesting. In contrast, workers were more commonly associated with hedges and avenues, suggesting that these are good for providing food.

A third of Britain’s 24 bumblebee species are listed as Conservation species because they are found in fewer places. “Bumblebees are most threatened by the loss and degradation of their nesting and foraging habitat,” said Richard Comont, science manager at the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

“Bumblebees need areas with lots of flowers, which are available from March to September/October. Bees lose this vital resource when habitats are lost entirely, either because they are built on or converted to other environments, or damaged by things like pesticide use.”

In the study, the researchers used 10 years of data from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s BeeWalk programme, a citizen science project involving over 500 volunteers across the UK who conduct monthly observation walks identifying and counting bumblebees.

Researchers combined data from the BeeWalk program with land cover data, climate data and detailed observer-collected habitat data. These combined data sources allowed researchers to examine associations between 14 British bumblebee species and habitat types.

As with many studies that rely on volunteers to collect data, the researchers found bias. Volunteers often chose survey sites to monitor bumblebees that were close to where they lived, creating a bias towards urban areas. However, the researchers say the scale and distribution of volunteering still covers a wide range of British landscapes, allowing for statistically robust results.

On the next steps in this research area, Dr. Whitehorn: “We want to find out why different species are associated with different habitats so that we can create and maintain the right conditions for them in the future. We also need to better understand how climate and land use changes might affect bumblebees and their habitats.”


Comments are closed.