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Biol Lett. 2007 Dec 22;3(6):638-41.

Landscape context not patch size determines bumble-bee density on flower mixtures sown for agri-environment schemes.

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NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Huntingdon PE28 2LS, UK.


Bumble-bee declines across Europe have been linked to loss of habitat and forage availability due to agricultural intensification. These declines may have severe ecological and commercial consequences since bumble-bees pollinate a range of wildflowers and crops. In England, attempts are being made to reintroduce forage resources through agri-environment schemes, yet there are few data on how the area of forage, or the landscape context in which it is provided, affects their success. We investigated the effects of sown forage patches on bumble-bees across sites varying in landscape characteristics. Bumble-bee densities were higher on sown patches compared with control habitats but did not vary with patch size, i.e. total forager numbers were proportional to patch area. Importantly, the relative response to sown forage patches varied widely across a landscape gradient such that their impact in terms of attracting foraging bumble-bees was greatest where the proportion of arable land was highest.

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