Evaluating Indirect effects of climate change on pollinators and pollination services through pesticide exposure
The overall goal of this project is to enable stakeholders, including beekeepers, crop growers, land managers and policy makers, to manage agricultural landscapes to support healthy pollinator populations and reliable pollination service delivery. Animal pollinators, mostly bees, provide pollination services to the majority of flowering plants and benefit crop yields. The agricultural sector relies heavily on synthetic pesticides to protect crops from pest damage and this reliance is predicted to increase in a future warmer and wetter climate. Already now, each decade is warmer than the preceding and precipitation over northern Europe is increasing. It has been shown that increased precipitation and warmer weather will result in increased pest pressure and per area pesticide use in major crops, resulting in increased pesticide exposure to bees foraging in agricultural landscapes.
This project aims to identify and quantify the effects of pesticide exposure (risks) and forage availability (benefits) to bees so that agricultural landscapes can be managed for healthy bee populations and reliable pollination services. A landscape quality index of forage resources and pesticide use will be created and validated against pollen collected from honeybees and bumblebees situated within red clover fields. This validated landscape quality index will then be related to the health of the bee colonies in these fields and the pollination services that they provide. These findings will provide farmers with a better understanding of the impacts that their management practices may have and beekeepers with information on the best locations for their bees.