Bumblebee family lineage survival is enhanced in high quality landscapes

Claire Carvell, Andrew F. G. Bourke, Stephanie Dreier, Stephen N. Freeman, Sarah Hulmes, William C. Jordan, John W. Redhead, Seirian Sumner, Jinliang Wang, Matthew S. Heard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Citations (Scopus)
30 Downloads (Pure)


Insect pollinators such as bumblebees (Bombus spp.) are in global decline1,2, a major cause of which is habitat loss due to agricultural intensification3. A range of global and national initiatives aimed at restoring pollinator habitats and populations have been developed4-6. However, the success of these initiatives depends critically upon understanding how landscape change affects key population-level parameters, such as survival between lifecycle stages7, in target species. Such understanding is lacking for bumblebees because of the difficulty of systematically finding and monitoring colonies in the wild. We used a novel combination of habitat manipulation, land-use and habitat surveys, molecular genetics8 and demographic and spatial modelling to examine between-year survival of family lineages in field populations of three bumblebee species. Here we show that the survival of family lineages from the summer worker to the spring queen stage in the following year increases significantly with the proportion of high-value foraging habitat, including spring floral resources, within 250-1000 m of the natal colony. This is the first evidence of a positive impact of habitat quality on survival and persistence between successive colony cycle stages in bumblebee populations. The findings provide strong support for conservation interventions that increase floral resources at a landscape scale and throughout the season having positive effects on wild pollinators in agricultural landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547–549
Number of pages3
Issue number7646
Early online date15 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2017

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