What limits bumblebee populations on farmland?

Published online
27 Apr 2021
Published by
British Ecological Society
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This paper quantifies the landscape composition, seasonal nectar and pollen supply and Bombus terrestris colony density of 12 farms in southwest UK to investigate how landscape composition influences the phenology of floral resources and how both these factors affect colony density. Farmland nectar supply during September is a strong predictor of B. terrestris colony density in the following year, explaining over half of all the variation in colony density; no other period of resource availability showed a significant association. Semi-natural habitat cover was not a good proxy for nectar or pollen supply and showed no significant association with colony density. However, the proportional cover of gardens in the landscape was significantly associated with colony density. Late summer appears to be a resource bottleneck for bumblebees in UK farmland, and consequently management strategies which increase late-summer nectar availability may be the most effective.

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