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Bumblebees do best where there is less pavement and more floral diversity
Date:12/24/2012

AUSTIN, Texas Landscapes with large amounts of paved roads and impervious construction have lower numbers of ground-nesting bumblebees, which are important native pollinators, a study from The University of Texas at Austin and the University of California, Berkeley shows.

The study suggests that management strategies that reduce the local use of pavement and increase natural habitat within the landscape could improve nesting opportunities for wild bees and help protect food supplies around the word.

The study also suggests that increasing the number of species-rich flowering patches in suburban and urban gardens, farms and restored habitats could provide pathways for bees to forage and improve pollination services over larger areas.

The findings have major implications for global pollinator conservation on a rapidly urbanizing planet.

"We are potentially in a pollinator crisis," said Shalene Jha, lead author and assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at Austin. "Honey bees are declining precipitously, and wild bees have also been exhibiting population declines across the globe. Native bees provide critical pollination services for fruit, nut, fiber and forage crops. Understanding how bees move around the landscape can help us both preserve biodiversity and improve crop yields."

Animal pollination is estimated to be worth over $200 billion in global crop yields.

For the research, published in the journal PNAS, Jha and senior author Claire Kremen, a professor at UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, studied a native California bumblebee, Bombus vosnesenskii, in habitats across exurban areas, farms and nature reserves.

In addition to finding that pavement negatively affects the bees, the scientists discovered that:

  • Bees will move longer distances to find patches of flowers that are rich in species; it's no
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Contact: Shalene Jha
sjha@austin.utexas.edu
248-719-5766
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert  

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