On-site floral resources and surrounding landscape characteristics impact pollinator biodiversity at solar parks.

Published online
22 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Blaydes, H. & Potts, S. G. & Whyatt, J. D. & Armstrong, A.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
England & UK


There is increasing land use change for solar parks and growing recognition that they could be used to support insect pollinators. However, understanding of pollinator response to solar park developments is limited and empirical data are lacking. We combine field observations with landcover data to quantify the impact of on-site floral resources and surrounding landscape characteristics on solar park pollinator abundance and species richness. We surveyed pollinators and flowering plants at 15 solar parks across England in 2021, used a landcover map to assess the surrounding high-quality habitat and aerial imagery to measure woody linear features (hedgerows, woodland edges and lines of trees). In total, 1397 pollinators were recorded, including 899 butterflies (64%), 171 hoverflies (12%), 161 bumble bees (12%), 157 moths (11%), and nine honeybees (<1%). At least 30 pollinator species were observed, the majority of which were common, generalist species. Pollinator biodiversity varied between solar parks and was explained by a combination of on-site floral resources and surrounding landscape characteristics. Floral species richness was the most influential on-site characteristic and woody linear feature density generally had a greater impact than the cover of surrounding high-quality habitats, although drivers differed by pollinator group. Our findings suggest that a range of factors affect pollinator biodiversity at solar parks, but maximising floral resources within a park through appropriate management actions may be the most achievable way to support most pollinator groups, especially where solar parks are located in resource-poor, disconnected landscapes.

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