Where is the UK’s pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower visiting insects

Academic papers are the backbone of the scientific community, but they are often rather technical and have bored me to sleep on a number of occasions. However they are incredibly important and I must say that an open access paper that I read today was incredibly interesting so I thought I would summarise it for day 4 of #PollinatorAwarenessWeek. The paper is entitled ‘ Where is the UK’s pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower visiting insects’ and is freely available to read here.

I have always been interested in urban biodiversity as I love watching and  recording the wildlife in my garden, and urban pollinators are no exception. This paper looks at seeing how pollinators are distributed between urban areas, farmland and nature reserves. The key findings from this paper are as follows:

  • The number of bees found did not differ between landscapes, but the number of bee species was higher in urban areas than farmland
  • The number of hoverflies found was higher in farmland and nature reserves than urban sites, but the number of species recorded did not differ significantly
  • Overall the number of individuals of commoner species was higher in urban areas, there was no significant difference in the numbers of rarer species between the three landscapes
  • Relative to other habitats, urban visitors foraged from a greater number of plant species (higher generality) but also visited a lower proportion of available plant species (higher specialization), this is thought to be because there are more plant species in urban areas due to garden plant introductions

I find the results of this study really interesting, for example rare species can be found in urban areas and farmland as well as nature reserves, where you would think they would be afforded more protection. It also shows that pollinators have different needs, what suits bees may not suit hoverflies and vise versa. Obviously there is also going to be lots of variation within these groups too, with urbanisation affecting different species in different ways. With urban areas growing, it is increasingly important that we look at the pollinators found in urban areas and how we can use urban areas to protect our precious pollinators.

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6 responses to “Where is the UK’s pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower visiting insects

  1. Variety would seem to be the spice of life when it comes to attracting pollinators to our gardens then? Also it would seem that gardens could play a very important part in helping pollinators, so engaging ordinary folk would be useful.

  2. By coincidence my group has also been looking at urban pollinators, specifically bees. Here’s a link to a discussion of a recent study. https://jeffollerton.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/urban-bee-diversity-a-new-study/

  3. Pingback: Pollinator Awareness Week – A Summary | Ryan Clark Ecology

  4. Very interesting to read these findings. Thanks for sharing.

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