Safeguarding pollinators and their habitats
Pollinators play an essential role in terrestrial ecosystems and they contribute substantially to global food production. But pollinators are declining due to various threats such as land-use change, climate change, pesticides, etc.. The importance of pollinators and the accumulating evidence for global declines, has led NIBIO to become actively involved in both national and international projects that investigate not only the state of pollinators, but also their habitats and the ecosystem services they provide.
Several departments within NIBIO have been, or are currently involved in research on pollinators, and so a wide range of research questions have been, and are being, addressed. These include:
- How urbanization impacts the diversity of pollinators
- What tools can city planners use to limit their impact on biodiversity
- What management strategies are best for safeguarding pollinators and their habitats
- How do pesticides affect pollinators
- How do habitat conditions impact pollinator abundance and species richness
- What limits pollinator activity in pear orchards (variety Celina) in Western Norway
- Can grass-dominated areas in agriculture and greenery be transformed into habitats that support biodiversity and ecological functions
NIBIO is also creating a DNA barcoding library, from which new and exciting questions can to be explored.
Part of NIBIOs involvement in safeguarding pollinators also includes contributing to large-scale projects funded by the government. A National pollination strategy was put forward by the Norwegian government in 2018, aiming at maintaining viable populations of wild bees and other pollinating insects in Norway (National pollination strategy). NIBIO's current role in this project is to contribute knowledge on the topic and facilitate communication among and within organizations working on pollinators.
In the past, NIBIO has also been involved in testing a protocol (FAO protocol) developed by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the united Nations) to detect and access pollination deficits in crops, under Nordic conditions (NINA rapport).
Currently, NIBIO is also collaborating with the international project “Climate change and its effects on pollination services (CLIPS)”, focusing on apple orchards across continents.
Meadows are an important habitat for pollinators, and so there has been an increasing interest by public agencies and private gardeners and farmers to establish new flower meadows on their properties. As part of a project investigating strategies for increasing biodiversity of flowers and wild bees, researchers at NIBIO are working on creating native seed mixtures for this purpose. The researchers involved in this project are Ellen Johanne Svalheim and Trygve S. Aamlid. Ellen is also coordinating the action plan for meadow management in Norway, led by the Norwegian Environmental Agency.
NIBIO will continue to prioritize research on this topic in an effort to safeguard pollinator populations and their habitats, not only for food production but also for sustaining healthy ecosystems for the future.
The study intended to compare repellency of three insecticides on bumble bees and honey bees in Norwegian red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) seed crops, and to examine effects of thiacloprid on bumble bee colony development in the field. The repellency study was carried out in a largescale field trial in SE Norway in 2013. On average for observations during the first week after spraying, 17 and 40% less honey bees (P = .03) and 26 and 20% less bumble bees (P = .36) were observed on plots sprayed with the pyrethroids lambda-cyhalothrin and alpha-cypermethrin, respectively, than on unsprayed control plots. No pollinator repellency was found on plots sprayed with the neonicotinoid thiacloprid. Compared with unsprayed control the seed yield increases were 22% on plots sprayed with thiacloprid vs. 12–13% on plots sprayed with pyrethroids (P = .10). Follow-up studies in 2014–2016 focused on the effect of thiacloprid on bumble bee colony development in commercially reared nests of Bombus terrestris placed into red clover seed crops at the start of flowering. Unsprayed control crops were compared with crops sprayed either at the bud stage or when 18–44% of flower heads were in full bloom. Chemical analyses of adult bumble bees showed that thiacloprid was taken up in bees when crops were sprayed during flowering, but not detected when crops were sprayed at the bud stage. The bumble bees in late-sprayed crops also developed weaker colonies than in unsprayed crops. Dead bees with a high internal concentration of thiacloprid were found in one crop sprayed during the night at 35% flowering. This shows that thiacloprid is not bee-safe if sprayed after anthesis and that spraying has to be conducted at the bud stage to reduce its contamination of nectar and pollen.
For a diverse pollinator fauna it is important that pollen and nectar are available over the entire summer at spatially relevant scales. Semi-natural hay meadows are among the most important sources of flower resources for pollinators, but the resources are strongly affected by the timing of mowing. Management recommendations for hay meadows often prescribe late mowing on order to allow undisturbed flowering during most of the summer. Traditional practices, however, often include also earlier mowing. We investigate the link between the temporal variation of flower resources and traditional mowing practices of semi-natural hay meadows in a low-intensity agricultural landscape in Romania. In early August, we botanically surveyed meadows that were cut early, intermediately, or late in the season. We recorded all herb species, their phenological stage, and the number of reproductive units of each species. Data were analysed using DCA, LM and GLM. Plant species richness and composition are not affected by the time of mowing, but different sets of species flower in semi-natural grasslands with different mowing regimes. In August the proportion of species flowering and flower density are highest in the early-mown meadows due to re-flowering after mowing. Analyses of phenological stages indicate that late-mown meadows are the main pollen and nectar sources in July, whereas meadows mown early are the main resource from August to the end of the season. The results demonstrate that for pollinator conservation, heterogeneous mowing times within a landscape need to be encouraged when possible, and that strict focus on late mowing may lead to shortage of flower resources late in the summer. Studies of low-intensity agriculture has a great potential for learning about management methods that can be used in other parts of the world where traditional practices have been lost. Such studies can thereby contribute with important knowledge to manage global pollinator loss.
Understanding how drivers of change affect ecosystem services (ES) is of great importance. Indicators of ES can be developed based on biophysical measures and be used to investigate the service flow from ecosystems to socio-ecological systems. However, the ES concept is multivariate and the use of normalized composite indicators reduces complexity and facilitates communication between science and policy. The aim of this study is to analyze how land use change affects ES and species richness and how the effects are modified by environmental factors by using composite indicators based on biophysical indicators. Using multivariate and regression analyses, we analyze the effect of grazing management abandonment in semi-natural grasslands in Norway on six ES: nutrient cycling, pollination, forage quality, aesthetics and global and regional climate regulation in addition to species richness along soil and climate gradients. Nutrient cycling, forage quality, regional climate regulation, aesthetics and species richness are larger in managed compared to abandoned grasslands. There are trade-offs among ES as different management strategies provide various ES and these trade-offs vary along environmental gradients. Management policies that aim to conserve ES need to have conservation goals that are context dependent, should recognize ES trade-offs and be adapted to local conditions.
There is consensus that land-use change is a main driver behind the recent declines of many pollinator populations in Europe. However, it is still not adequately understood how the local resource quality and landscape composition influence pollinators, and if and how the effects vary in space and time. We analysed the influence of landscape- (2 km radius) and local scale- (50 m transects) resources on bumblebee species richness and abundance during two years in South-eastern Norway, where agriculture is highly modernised but landscapes still show limited spatial homogenization. Local flower density and species richness were strongly positively associated with bumblebee densities and species richness, but higher landscape-level flower species richness were linked to lower local bumblebee abundances. Early and late mass flowering crops had clear, but contrasting, effects. The total area of early flowering crops had a consistent negative impact on bumblebee density and species richness throughout the season, while late flowering crops had a positive impact in the beginning of the season before their bloom, suggesting a carry-over effect from previous years. The negative effects of early flowering crops could be due to competition of bumblebees with honey-bees, which are widely used in these crops. Bumblebee density and species richness were clearly negatively correlated with the total area of forest and flower-poor land use areas, including grass fields and cereals. In contrast, bumblebees were positively associated with most linear elements in the landscape (especially pasture and cropland verges), except for roads, which negatively affected bumblebee densities, possibly due to increased mortality, since the quality of the flower resources did not differ from other linear elements. Our results show that the quality and the spatial and temporal distribution of flower resources within the landscape are important drivers for bumblebees, but can create counterintuitive distribution patterns depending on the temporal and spatial resolution of the survey. Increasing flower resources in linear elements and the amount of late mass-flowering crops may be viable management measures to improve conditions for bumblebees in moderately intensified landscapes. Bombus Pollinators Linear features Mass-flowering crops Landscape ecology Agricultural landscapes Ecosystem services
In 2012, the Norwegian Environmental Agency funded an extension to the Global Pollination Project, coordinated by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) to expand the number of connected countries from 7 fully participating to in total 13 countries. This international effort seeks to build capacity for pollination studies and add to the knowledge base for the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES is currently conducting its first fast track case study on pollination. Specifically, the Global Pollination Project implements the “Protocol to detect and assess pollination deficits in crops: a handbook for its use” (Vaissière et al. 2011), developed through the FAO. The proto-col outlines a unified method to investigate pollination and measure pollination deficits in vari-ous agricultural systems around the world. NINA (the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research) was tasked with setting up a Norwegian collaboration to implement the protocol in Norway, to analyse its applicability to Nordic conditions and evaluate its strength in relation to alternative research strategies. The present report is the result of this effort. This report does not communicate the final results of the analyses, as they will be conducted in the two larger “host-projects” that made the implementation of the protocol possible. Instead, it outlines the rationale of the protocol, and evaluates its potential for providing management rel-evant information on pollination deficits, with particular emphasis on Norway. We discuss the state and trends of pollination dependent crops in Norway, as a background for the need for pollination in Norwegian Agriculture. The protocol is general enough to be applied to a wide variety of settings, and we did not expe-rience any fundamental problems of implementing it in a Nordic setting. We did however notice challenges to an effective implementation, which might be especially pronounced in a Norwe-gian or Scandinavian setting. First, it can be difficult to find a wide enough range of factors that influence pollinators to efficiently analyse the importance of pollination without resorting to ma-nipulative treatments. For example, the amount of flower resources and fragmentation of habi-tat are factors known to influence pollinators. But many crops are spatially aggregated to rela-tively narrow valleys and therefore experience similar surroundings. Secondly, it can be chal-lenging to find enough replicate farms since Norway is a relatively small agricultural nation. Thirdly, pollinators in Norway (as in many other parts of the world) are intractably linked to ag-ricultural and animal husbandry practices that provide a diversity of flowering resources neces-sary for pollinating insects, yet these practices and resulting resources in the surrounding land-scape is not sufficiently captured by the survey protocol. The protocol is designed to estimate differences in yield given differences in pollination, and various methods are available to approach optimal pollination, that acts as benchmark. Esti-mating the effect of pollination on yield is the foundation to understanding the status of pollina-tion deficits for any crop. The protocol appears to be a successful effort to create a unified standard of measuring pollination and pollination deficits by this definition. It thus marks a great improvement for pollination research in agriculture internationally. Pollination, Ecosystem services, Bees, Bumble bees, Pollination deficit Protocol, FAO, IPBES, Policy, apple, red clover, Norway, pollinering, økosystemtjenester, bier, humler, protokoll for polline-ringsunderskudd, FAO, IPBES, eple, rødkløver