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Archive for September, 2010

A decline in pollinating insects in India is resulting in reduced vegetable yields and could limit people’s access to a nutritional diet, a study warns.

Indian researchers said there was a “clear indication” that pollinator abundance was linked to productivity.

They added that the loss of the natural service could have a long-term impact on the farming sector, which accounts for almost a fifth of the nation’s GDP.

Globally, pollination is estimated to be worth £141bn ($224bn) each year.

The findings were presented at a recent British Ecological Society meeting, held at the University of Leeds.

Each year, India produces about 7.5 million tonnes of vegetables. This accounts for about 14% of the global total, making the nation second only to China in the world’s vegetable production league table.

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BBC

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Some of the UK’s rarest bumblebees are at risk of becoming extinct as a result of inbreeding, research suggests.

The lack of genetic diversity is making the bees more vulnerable to a number of threats, including parasitic infection, say scientists in Scotland.

They warn that some populations of bees are becoming increasingly isolated as a result of habitat loss.

The findings are being presented at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting at the University of Leeds.

Lead researcher Penelope Whitehorn, a PhD student from Stirling University, said the study of moss carder bumblebees (Bombus muscorum) on nine Hebridean islands, off the west coast of Scotland, offered an important insight into the possible consequences of inbreeding.

“The genetic work had already been carried out on these bumblebees, so we knew that the smaller and more isolated populations were more inbred than the larger populations on the mainland,” she told BBC News.

“And as it was an island system, it could work as a proxy for what could occur on the mainland if populations do become isolated from each other as a result of habitat fragmentation.”

The study is believed to be the first of its kind to investigate inbreeding and immunity in wild bees.

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BBC News

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A Stirling bumblebee project has been voted the UK’s best environment project at the National Lottery Awards 2010.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, set up in 2006 with lottery funding, beat hundreds of projects to win the title.

The charity, which has more than 6,000 members, aims to raise awareness of the importance of bumblebee conservation to the countryside and crop security.

Charity director Dr Ben Darvill said it was an honour for everyone involved to receive national recognition.

He said: “The awards have given us a great opportunity to highlight this cause and how we’ve put our funding to good use.

“It’s great to be able to show anyone who has ever played the lottery what a real difference their money can make.

“We have received fantastic support throughout all stages of the competition and I would like to thank everyone who has voted for us.”

The charity, which is based at Stirling University, works with the public, farmers and land managers across the UK to prevent further decline of bumblebee populations.

The National Lottery Awards event was broadcast live from London’s Roundhouse on BBC One on Saturday.

Celebrity guests included Tess Daly, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Amir Khan.

BBC News

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A York University doctoral student who discovered a new species of bee on his way to the lab one morning has completed a study that examines 84 species of sweat bees in Canada. Nineteen of these species — including the one Jason Gibbs found in downtown Toronto − are new to science because they have never been identified or described before. [Read full article]

Science Daily

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