Journal of Insect Conservation

, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 853–864 | Cite as

Management to enhance pollen and nectar resources for bumblebees and butterflies within intensively farmed landscapes

  • R. F. Pywell
  • W. R. Meek
  • L. Hulmes
  • S. Hulmes
  • K. L. James
  • M. Nowakowski
  • C. Carvell
ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

There have been serious global declines in diversity of bumblebees, butterflies and other pollinating insects. The most effective means of increasing abundance and diversity of bumblebees on farmland is to sow simple, low cost mixtures of dicotyledons rich in pollen and nectar, as prescribed under the UK agri-environment schemes. The potential benefits of this management prescription for butterflies are unknown. Similarly, more information is needed on how to manage this habitat to maximise the provision of pollen and nectar resources whilst protecting breeding habitat for butterflies. This study aimed to devise mixtures and cutting management regimes which address these issues. We found significant effects of seed mixture, timing and frequency of cutting, and removal of cut material on vegetation composition, flower resource availability and pollinators (the abundance, species richness and temporal distribution of butterflies and bumblebees, including males and queens, attracted to the mixtures). We recommend that nectar flower mixtures are refined by the inclusion of the best performing species to provide mid- and late-season forage resources (Trifolium spp., Lotus corniculatus and Centaureanigra), and the removal of competitive grass species. Summer cutting in May or early June, with removal of herbage where possible, should be applied to half the patch to extend the flowering season, and minimise damage to butterfly breeding habitat. This should be accompanied by the typical autumn cut to the whole patch. Even with best management practice, such nectar flower mixtures are only effective for 3–4 years and this should be recognised in policies aimed at enhancing pollinator populations in agricultural landscapes.

Keywords

Pollination Bumblebees Butterflies Habitat restoration Field margins Wildflowers Agri-environment schemes 

Supplementary material

10841_2011_9383_MOESM1_ESM.doc (43 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 43 kb)

References

  1. Alford DV (1975) Bumblebees. Davis-Poynter, LondonGoogle Scholar
  2. Bignal EM (1998) Using an ecological understanding of farmland to reconcile nature conservation requirements, EU agriculture policy and world trade agreements. J Appl Ecol 35:949–954CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boatman ND, Jones NE, Garthwaite D, Pietravalle S (2007) Option uptake in entry level scheme agreements in England. Asp Appl Biol 81:309–316Google Scholar
  4. Brittain CA, Vighi M, Bommarco R, Settele J, Potts SG (2010) Impacts of a pesticide on pollinator species richness at different spatial scales. Basic Appl Ecol 11:106–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bullock JM (1996) Plant competition and community dynamics. In: Hodgson J, Illius AW (eds) The ecology and management of grazing systems. CAB International, Wallingford, pp 69–100Google Scholar
  6. Carvell C, Roy DB, Smart SM, Pywell RF, Preston C, Goulson D (2006) Declines in forage availability for bumblebees at a national scale. Biol Conserv 132:481–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Carvell C, Meek WR, Pywell RF, Goulson D, Nowakowski M (2007) Comparing the efficacy of agri-environment schemes to enhance bumblebee abundance and diversity on arable field margins. J Appl Ecol 44:29–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Edwards M, Williams PH (2004) Where have all the bumblebees gone, and could they ever return? British Wildlife 15:305–312Google Scholar
  9. Feber RE, Smith H, Macdonald DW (1996) The effects on butterfly abundance of the management of uncropped edges of arable field. J Appl Ecol 33:1191–1205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fox R, Warren MS, Harding PT, McLean IFG, Asher J, Roy D, Brereton T (2001) The State of Britain’s Butterflies. Butterfly Conservation and the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, WarehamGoogle Scholar
  11. Goulson D (2003) Bumblebees their behaviour and ecology. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Hawkins RP (1958) A survey of late flowering and singlecut red clover seed crops. J Nat Inst Agric Bot 8:450–461Google Scholar
  13. Heard MS, Carvell C, Carreck NL, Rothery P, Osborne JL, Bourke AFG (2007) Landscape context not patch size determines bumble-bee density on flower mixtures sown for agri-environment schemes. Biol Lett 3:638–641PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lonsdorf E, Kremen C, Ricketts T, Winfree R, Williams N, Greenleaf N (2009) Modelling pollination services across agricultural landscapes. Ann Bot 103:1589–1600PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Memmott J, Carvell C, Pywell RF, Craze PG (2010) The potential impact of global warming on the efficacy of field margins sown for the conservation of bumblebees. Phil Trans B 365:2071–2079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Morris MG (2000) The effects of structure and its dynamics on the ecology and conservation of arthropods in British grasslands. Biol Conserv 95:L129–L142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Natural England (2010a) The countryside stewardship scheme handbook. Natural England, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  18. Natural England (2010b) Entry level stewardship: environmental stewardship handbook. Natural England, PeterboroughGoogle Scholar
  19. Pollard E, Yates TJ (1993) Monitoring butterflies for ecology and conservation. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Potts SG, Biesmeijer JC, Kremen C, Neumann P, Schweiger O, Kunin WE (2010) Global pollinator declines: trends, impacts and drivers. Trends Ecol Evol 25:345–353PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Prŷs-Jones OE, Corbet SA (1991) Bumblebees. Naturalists’ Handbooks 6. Richmond Publishing, SloughGoogle Scholar
  22. Pywell RF (2008) Comparison of new and existing agri-environment scheme options for biodiversity enhancement on arable land (BD1624). Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Pywell RF, Bullock JM, Roy DB, Warman EA, Rothery P (2003) Plant traits as predictors of performance in ecological restoration schemes. J Appl Ecol 40:65–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Pywell RF, Warman EA, Hulmes L, Hulmes S, Nuttall P, Sparks TH, Critchley CNR, Sherwood A (2006) Effectiveness of new agri-environment schemes in providing foraging resources for bumblebees in intensively farmed landscapes. Biol Conserv 129:192–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Pywell RF, Meek WM, Carvell C, Hulmes L, Nowakowski M (2007) The Buzz project: biodiversity enhancement on arable land under the new agri-environment schemes. Asp Appl Biol 81:61–68Google Scholar
  26. Sakanoue S (2005) Demography of red clover seeds in mixed-sown meadows. J Agric Sci 143:193–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Steffan-Dewenter I, Potts SG, Packer L (2005) Pollinator diversity and crop pollination services are at risk. Trends Ecol Evol 20:651–652PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Stewart KEJ, Bourn NAD, Thomas JA (2001) An evaluation of three quick methods commonly used to assess sward height in ecology. J Appl Ecol 38:1148–1154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Walker KJ, Stevens PA, Stevens DP, Mountford JO, Manchester SJ, Pywell RF (2004) The restoration and re-creation of species-rich lowland grassland on land managed for intensive agriculture in the UK. Biol Conserv 119:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Warren MS (1992) The conservation of British butterflies. In: Dennis RLH (ed) The ecology of butterflies in Britain. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  31. Wells TCE, Cox R (1993) The long-term effects of cutting on the yield, floristic composition and soil nutrient status of chalk grassland. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, HuntingdonGoogle Scholar
  32. Williams P, Colla SR, Zhenghua XIE (2009) Bumblebee vulnerability: common correlates of winners and losers across three continents. Conserv Biol 23:931–940PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. F. Pywell
    • 1
  • W. R. Meek
    • 1
  • L. Hulmes
    • 1
  • S. Hulmes
    • 1
  • K. L. James
    • 2
  • M. Nowakowski
    • 3
  • C. Carvell
    • 1
  1. 1.NERC Centre for Ecology and HydrologyWallingfordUK
  2. 2.Northmoor Trust, Little WittenhamOxfordshireUK
  3. 3.Wildlife Farming CompanyBicesterUK

Personalised recommendations