Archive for the ‘Biodiversity’ Category

The project Status and Trends of European Pollinators (STEP) will document the nature and extent of these declines, examine functional traits associated with particular risk, develop a Red List of important European pollinator groups, in particular bees and lay the groundwork for future pollinator monitoring programmes.  STEP will also assess the relative importance of potential drivers of such change, including climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, agrichemicals, pathogens, alien species, light pollution, and their interactions. STEP will measure the ecological and economic impacts on declining pollinator services and floral resources including effects on wild plant populations, crop production and human nutrition. It will review existing and potential mitigation options, providing novel tests of their effectiveness across Europe. The work will build upon existing datasets and models, complemented by spatially-replicated campaigns of field research to fill gaps in current knowledge. STEP will integrate the findings into a policy-relevant framework, creating Evidence-based Decision Support tools. It will also establish communication links to a wide range of stakeholders across Europe and beyond, including policy makers, beekeepers, farmers, academics and the general public. Taken together, the research programme will improve our understanding of the nature, causes, consequences and potential mitigation of declines in pollinator services at local, continental and global scales.


STEP is funded by the European Commission as a Collaborative Project within Framework 7 under grant 244090 – STEP– CP – FP. More information on the STEP website: www.STEP-project.net

Further reading:

Developing European conservation and mitigation tools for pollination services: approaches of the STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators) project. Potts S.G. et. al. Journal of Apicultural Research 50: 152-164. 2011 [Link to PDF]


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Buglife President Germaine Greer, Wildlife Presenter Bill Oddie and former Prime Minister Tony Blair today become ambassadors for a new campaign at The Royal Society in London to help ‘Get Britain Buzzing’. The campaign led by Buglife hopes to highlight the crisis facing pollinating insects such as bees, hoverflies and moths.

The launch event is taking place this afternoon with a recorded message from Tony Blair followed by a series of talks on pollinators and a performance from Insect Circus a spectacular combination of physical theatre, circus skills and extraordinary insect costumes.

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Some nice slide presentations by US biologist Sam Droege including the following (use arrow key at bottom to flick through more quickly and menu on left to view full screen):

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Government releases honeybee review of neonicotinoid pesticide – but what about our wild pollinators?

10th March 2011

Buglife and other environmental charities are very concerned that Government inaction means that controversial neonicotinoid pesticides are continuing to damage bees and other wildlife; this is despite a newly released Government report claiming that field studies show “no gross effects” on Honeybees.

There is a growing pile of independent, published scientific evidence of damage to bees and other pollinators from these pesticides.In contrast the key field studies that the Government report relies on were funded by the pesticide company, have not been published and have not been subject to open examination.

Matt Shardlow, Buglife Chief Executive said “We welcome the publication of this report, for the first time it is clear what evidence the Government has been relying on to license the use of these potentially environmentally destructive chemicals,”

“However, the release of this Government report has not put us at ease.It focuses almost entirely on Honeybees, and while the health of domestic bees is important, more than 90% of pollination is done by wild bees, hoverflies, moths and other insects.”

“There is nothing in the report that leads to a conclusion that the chemicals are safe for the environment.Indeed, one study quoted showed even bigger impacts on solitary bees than on Honeybees.” ..

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Buglife report – revised (pdf)

The Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) report and letter to the CRD

The Cresswell report

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Volunteers play a vital role in ensuring that a range of valuable long-term datasets continue to survive, a team of scientists will say.

They argue that without citizen scientists, it would be too costly to carry out regular monitoring surveys.

However, they add that appropriate training is needed to allay concerns about inaccurate recordings.

The researchers from Oxford University will present their case at the Earthwatch annual lecture on Thursday.

“Government and research councils’ funding wants you to test hypotheses and produce very specific, short-term high-impact results, ” said Chris Newman, one of the researchers from the university’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) who will be making the presentation. [Read full article]

Mark Kinver, BBC News

Comment: I found the following statement quite startling: “For example, the US House of Representatives voted in 1993 to ban the National Biological Survey from accepting the services of volunteers”.  If such a policy was ever applied to environmental NGO’s in the UK the whole biodiverity information gathering process would grind to a halt! Amateur natural historians have formed the backbone of natural history recording since Victorian times.


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Current evidence demonstrates that a sixth major extinction of biological diversity event is underway. The Earth is losing between one and ten percent of biodiversity per decade, mostly due to habitat loss, pest invasion, pollution, over-harvesting and disease. Certain natural ecosystem services are vital for human societies.

Many fruit, nut, vegetable, legume, and seed crops depend on pollination. Pollination services are provided both by wild, free-living organisms (mainly bees, but also to name a few many butterflies, moths and flies), and by commercially managed bee species. Bees are the predominant and most economically important group of pollinators in most geographical regions.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)4 estimates that out of some 100 crop species which provide 90% of food worldwide, 71 of these are bee-pollinated. In Europe alone, 84% of the 264 crop species are animal pollinated and 4 000 vegetable varieties exist thanks to pollination by bees. The production value of one tonne of pollinator-dependent crop is approximately five times higher than one of those crop categories that do not depend on insects6.

Has a “pollinator crisis” really been occurring during recent decades, or are these concerns just another sign of global biodiversity decline? Several studies have highlighted different factors leading to the pollinators’ decline that have been observed around the world. This bulletin considers the latest scientific findings and analyses possible answers to this question. As the bee group is the most important pollinator worldwide, this bulletin focuses on the instability of wild and managed bee populations, the driving forces, potential mitigating measures and recommendations.

[Read full report – 2.27MB PDF]

From United Nations Environment Programme

Some relevant discussion over at Myrmecos blog

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