Urban areas could be key to boosting pollinator numbers

Britain’s largest pollinator study has been launched today. The project led by Professor Jane Memmott, from the University of Bristol, will be conducted in twelve cities across Britain to determine how well pollinators such as bees and butterflies are doing in urban areas.

The study has been launched to investigate the idea that urban areas offer an unexpected haven for insect life, as city gardens provide a year long supply of pollen and nectar compared to short lasting unreliable food sources and monoculture crops found in nature reserves and on farmland.

Researchers will collect data to identify both insect and plant species, and measure abundance and density of pollinators in cities compared to those found in nature reserves and on farmland. This will allow scientists to build up a picture of what plants and insects are present in certain habitats, how well populations are doing and understand what plants insects are feeding on.

The results of the study could be key to helping boost pollinator numbers, which are currently in decline across the UK. Furthermore, over 80% of plants (including those that produce the food we rely on) depend on insect pollination to reproduce. By identifying where insects are doing well, we can work to improve their environment and to aid future pollinator population recovery.