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Pesticides in the air- pollinator exposure along an agricultural intensification gradient

Start: 2020

Pesticides are used to control pests in agriculture, but can also lead to exposure and effects on non-target pollinators. Bees are important pollinators that can be exposed to pesticides when foraging for pollen and nectar in agricultural landscapes. There are several routes of pesticide exposure for bees, but one less explored is that through air. Pesticides in the air are part of the national environmental quality monitoring since ten years and residues of over 50 compounds can be found throughout the vegetation season. In this project, we aim to quantify bee pollinator exposure to pesticides through air and food along an agricultural intensification gradient defined by the proportion of cropland in the surrounding landscape. We will sample air, bees, nectar and pollen at six apple orchards in southernmost Sweden, distributed along a gradient of increasing cropland and decreasing semi-natural grassland and forest in the landscape. The identity and concentrations of pesticides will be related among materials and to the intensification gradient, forming the basis for land use policy to reduce pollinator pesticide exposure. Our findings will be useful for pollinator conservation, harnessing pollination services to crops and wild plants and for authorities, growers of insect pollinated crops and beekeepers.