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Phenology, landscape utilisation and monitoring of bumblebees

Landscape use and flower preferences


This study shows that flower-rich landscape elements like unfertilised pastures, undisturbed wood verges and uncropped field verges are important for bumblebee abundance and species-richness. Totally 1053 bumblebees belonging to 17 species were found, and 70% of all observations were made in these three landscape elements (out of the six landscape elements studied), that also contained the highest amount of flowering plant species and flowers as well as a large proportion of the plant species most preferred by bumblebees. Were these landscape elements to disappear due to intensification of agriculture or forestry, it would have serious consequences for the bumblebee abundance. In studies from Germany and UK only six to seven species are commonly found and this low figure may be caused by the high degree of agricultural intensification in these countries. The results, however, also point out the importance of a diverse landscape. As also found by Teräs (1985), bumblebee species preferred partly different landscape elements and showed a clear seasonal variation in habitat preferences. If the landscape elements with fewer bumblebees, as road verges and leys, were to disappear it could cause gaps in the flower supply leading to a decline in bumblebee abundance. Bumblebees do not store nutrients as honeybees do, so to survive they require a continuous succession of flowers during the summer (Goulson 2003a). As found in other studies, not all plant species available were used by bumblebees, and a few species received almost all visits (Teräs 1985). The five most visited plant species received over 50% of all bumblebee visits. They were: S. tinctoria, T. pratense, C. jacea, T. medium and K. arvensis.

Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/15/06