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Insects: Species That Prefer Crops Prosper While Majority Decline

April 17, 2019 |

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

“Many species of flower-visiting insect are in trouble in Britain, according to a new reportfrom the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) near Oxford, which drew on almost 750,000 observations of insects between 1980 and 2013. The study used population records of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species over large areas of Great Britain to show that one third of these pollinating species declined in range during this time.

Most of these losses were in species that were already relatively rare. Some big losers were the red-shanked carder bee, the smooth-gastered furrow bee and the large shaggy bee, all of which had vanished from around half of their previous locations in 1980.

However, the same report also found that other species of bee and hoverfly, about 10% of the total, actually increased. Some of these, like the ashy mining bee and the lobe-spurred furrow bee, are pollinators of field crops like oilseed rape. These two species increased their ranges five-fold during the same period, suggesting that crop-specialist species are thriving at the expense of most others.

The other winners were actually invaders. The ivy bee – most often seen on the plant of the same name – only colonised mainland Britain in 2001 and the range over which it can be found has been expanding by 16% every year since. Despite what may appear to be a mixed bag, the overall diversity of British pollinator species has fallen steadily since 1980…”

Read on at: The Conversation.

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