Ongoing work on Plant-Pollinator Interactions Presented at ESA 2023 Annual Meeting

Oregon Conference Centre, Portland.

Portland, Oregon - Dr. Mario Balzan has presented ongoing work focused on unravelling the complexities of plant-pollinator interactions at the Ecological Society of America 2023 Annual Meeting, held in Portland, Oregon.

The presentation was centred around exploring the impact of local and landscape habitat factors on the abundance of honeybees and various wild bee functional groups, while also delving into the repercussions of intense honeybee visitation on the abundance and richness of these wild bee functional groups. Initial findings unveiled that honeybees exhibited a strong preference for agricultural habitats and demonstrated a diverse utilisation of floral resources, showcasing overlaps with those favoured by wild bees.

Distinct functional groups of wild bees displayed associations with different local habitat types, with special emphasis on agricultural spaces, gardens, and roadside vegetation. On a broader scale, at the landscape level, the abundance of wild bees displayed positive correlations with arable land, garrigue, grassland, orchards, and urban environments. However, the response of different bee functional groups to landscape parameters varied significantly.

Interestingly, the study revealed that heightened honeybee visitation rates exerted a negative influence on wild bee abundance. Nevertheless, this impact did not extend to the richness of functional groups, as indicated by the study's results. In light of these revelations, the research underscores the urgency for a comprehensive approach, advocating for the consideration of local and landscape habitat characteristics, as well as the intricate interactions between different species, in the formulation of strategies aimed at preserving bee diversity and the essential services they provide to pollination ecosystems.

Ongoing research within the BEEPOLL project, which is funded by the Malta Council for Science and Technology National Space Fund, was also presented. This initiative merges advanced remote sensing data to evaluate the availability of floral resources, coupled with innovative techniques like beehive monitoring and the creation of models for wild bee distribution. The ultimate aim of this project is to provide valuable insights for effective pollinator and pollination ecosystem service management.

For more information on the BEEPOLL project, please visit our current projects page, or contact us from here.