The effect of agri-environment schemes on disease transmission dynamics in pollinator
We are currently working on a large BBSRC funded collaborative project with Royal Holloway and East Malling Institue investigating the impact of agri-environment schemes on emerging infectious diseases in pollinators.
Emerging diseases and the multi-host pathogens that cause them threaten animal and human health and can put ecosystem services at risk. Insect pollinators, particularly wild and managed bees, provide a key ecosystem service and are crucial for maintaining food security. But bees are in decline, and multiple lines of evidence suggest that emerging diseases may play a key role in these declines. Inter-specific transmission in pollinators is facilitated by niche overlap; sharing floral resources can promote indirect disease transmission. However, the provision of floral resources through agri-environment schemes is the key component in current programs to enhance pollinator assemblages for ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. Based on this landscape-scale experiment, we are studying the fundamental ecology of disease transmission in this community to determine who and what drives transmission and how we can optimise management to reduce the risk of disease emergence. We are combining the study of disease transmission dynamics in the field with targeted experiments to dissect the drivers of disease transmission in agricultural landscapes.
The research team includes Dr. Robyn Manley and Toby Doyle at the University of Exeter as well as contributions from Owen Wright, Sophie Hedges and Meri Anderson; it is carried out in collaboration with Prof. Mark Brown (Royal Holloway University), Dr. Michelle Fountain (NIAB EMR) and Dr. Vincent Doublet (University of Ulm).