Monday, 10 October 2016

Cities can serve as a refuge for insect pollinators

Date: October 3, 2016
Source: Plymouth University

Residents living in towns and cities can play a major role in ensuring insect pollinators survive and thrive around them, a team of international scientists has said.

With global bee and butterfly populations in decline, the nature of cities is shifting so that they often contain more diverse and abundant populations of native bees than nearby rural landscapes.

However, urban conservation programmes are largely lagging behind, in that they continue to invest in education and outreach rather than programs designed to achieve high-priority species conservation.

In an essay to be published in Conservation Biology, the academics -- including researchers from the University of Northampton and the University of Plymouth -- said new research into urban ecology is changing how we view the biological value and ecological importance of cities globally.

But in order to ensure this has a recognisable effect on issues such as global food security and ecosystem service provision, policies now need to be better aligned with this newly unfolding image of urban landscapes.

Jeff Ollerton, Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Northampton, and Dr Mick Hanley, Reader in Plant-Animal Interactions at the University of Plymouth, were among the report's authors.

Dr Hanley said: "Previous work conducted in Plymouth has shown that urban gardens in the UK are increasingly being recognised for their potential to maintain or even enhance biodiversity. And by growing a variety of plants from around the world, gardeners can play an important role in ensuring that a range of food sources is available for many different pollinators. This international collaboration demonstrates those theories can also be applied globally, to the potential benefits of people and communities across the world."

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