, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 57-68

Effects of Landscape Elements on the Distribution of the Rare Bumblebee Species Bombus muscorum in an Agricultural Landscape

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Abstract

The regional distribution pattern of Bombus muscorum was studied in an agricultural landscape of central Germany, one of two remaining areas with the occurrence of this nationally endangered species in the Land Hesse. To determine the landscape characteristics that facilitate the occurrence of B. muscorum, grid-based observation records were analysed in a GIS environment at a regional scale. A significantly negative effect of the number of trees on the occurrence of B. muscorum and a significantly positive one of the proportion of arable land, strongly support the species’ preference for open landscapes. Yet, apart from open landscapes additional landscape features were shown to be important. A significantly positive effect of ditches in the final model revealed the importance of this landscape element for the occurrence of B. muscorum. This finding was additionally supported by recordings of nest-searching queens, nests, and flower visits along dithes. The positive effects of clover and fallow land indicate the species’ need for suitable food resources throughout the season. Because B. muscorum exhibits small foraging ranges, it is essential that landscape elements that provide nesting sites, foraging habitats and undisturbed hibernation structures are next to each other. The low numbers of individuals of B. muscorum recorded indicate that the supply of these habitat elements may have reached a critical threshold in the study region.