Bumblebee conservation in agricultural landscapes - the role of landscape structure and the Environmental Land Management Scheme

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Zoology

Abstract

This PhD project will examine the role of landscape structure, networks of
habitats and the competition between managed and wild pollinators on wild
bumblebee conservation in agricultural landscapes. This research will
examine the broad research question: "What is the effect of landscape
structure on bumblebee populations?" Answering this question will inform how
current Environmental Land Management Schemes and international
recommendations for pollinator conservation can be more effective in helping
maintain and restore bumblebee populations. The research will be set in a
collection of nature reserves and a farm level experimental landscape in
Cambridgeshire, the United Kingdom, where field surveys and experiments

involving lab-reared bumblebees and honeybees will take place. Using lab-
reared Buff-tailed bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) from wild-caught queens,

colony fitness will be investigated alongside bumblebee use of varied
landscape features such as, woodlands, bare soil, and hedgerows.
Bumblebee resource use will be tracked by following their movement through
the landscape, via pollen analysis, and a novel eDNA analysis method. In
addition, indicators of colony fitness, including foraging success and colony
size, will be measured. Data will be collated to shape networks of
bumblebees, forage plants, and landscape feature interactions to draw
conclusions on habitat resilience and robustness. This data will reveal the
scale of habitat restoration that is needed in agricultural landscapes. To
complement this, competition with other pollinators, such as managed
honeybees, will be examined through replicated field experiments with
bumblebees and honeybee hives in varying stocking densities. The outcomes
of this research will fill a research gap on wild pollinator landscape use, and
the competition between wild and managed pollinators, and it will be utilised
to produce policy-relevant recommendations for evidence-based land
management policies at national and regional scales.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007164/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2729523 Studentship NE/S007164/1 30/09/2022 30/03/2026 Nynke Bloemer