Together with Prof. Manfred Ayasse and Dr. Jonas Kuppler, we are studying how land use intensification, e.g. habitat fragmentation, decline in food sources and an increase in pesticide use can increase stress in insect pollinators, potentially leading to decreasing health. Decreasing pollinator health can in turn affect e.g. foraging behaviour, pollen loads carried and learning abilities of pollinators and thus may lead to changes in pollen transfer patterns and ultimately to a reduction in pollination services. Decreased health can also increase pathogen infection rate.
Within this project, we aim to understand the links between land use intensity, pollinator health and pollination services in grasslands. In order to achieve this aim, we will use the continuous land use index LUI, (Blüthgen et al. 2012) in combination with plot-level data on plant diversity and abundance (provided by core project 5 Botany) and data on land cover types surrounding the experimental plots (provided by core project 3 Instrumentation & Remote Sensing) as a measure for land use intensity. In all 50 grassland plots per exploratory, we will collect bumblebees and syrphid flies and assess several pollinator health indicators (i.e. cuticular lipids, viral loads and fluctuating asymmetry). Additionally, we will observe foraging behavior of bumblebees and syrphid flies in all 50 grasslands per exploratory.
To learn more about this project go to : https://www.biodiversity-exploratories.de