Landscape Ecology

, Volume 30, Issue 10, pp 2067–2078 | Cite as

Responses of bees to habitat loss in fragmented landscapes of Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest

  • Patrícia A. Ferreira
  • Danilo Boscolo
  • Luísa G. Carvalheiro
  • Jacobus C. Biesmeijer
  • Pedro L. B. Rocha
  • Blandina F. Viana
Research Article



Loss of natural habitat can isolate pollinator populations and negatively affect sexual reproduction of animal-pollinated plants.


We evaluated how the loss of natural forest affects pollinator diversity in the understory of the Atlantic Rainforest in Northeastern Brazil.


We focused on bees, the main group of pollinators for angiosperms. We assessed how changes in forest cover at regional (36 km2) and local (0.36 km2) scales affect bee richness and abundance.


We sampled 492 bees from 59 species, of which 58 % were above ground nesting species and 73 % exhibited some level of sociality. Our results show that the loss of forest had negative effects on understory bee abundance, which was particularly accentuated for species that nest above ground. However, for social bees the effect of changes in forest cover at a local scale depended on regional forest cover, negative effects being only detected when landscapes had at least 35 % of forest. For bee richness, the null model was among the best models bringing considerable uncertainty about landscape effects on bee richness.


These findings suggest that management strategies and conservation practices must integrate proper actions that consider both local and regional scales. For existing fragmented landscapes, it is important to increase forest availability at the regional scale, while also maintaining high environmental heterogeneity at the local scale. We believe that with proper landscape planning this multiscalar approach can be not only more effective, but also easier to implement.


Pollinators Forest understory Tropical Landscape changes Multiscalar approach Bahia Brazil 



We want to thank the financial research support by INOMEP-PRONEX-CNPQ, and essential financial support by FAPESB, CNPQ and CAPES. Jesus Aguirre-Gutierrez helped with forest cover calculations. Dra. Favízia F. Oliveira and MSc. Thiago Mahlmann aided in bee identification and information about bee nests and sociability. Dr. Luciano E. Lopes, Dr. Jean Paul Metzger, Dra. Astrid M. P. Kleinert, Dra. Camila Magalhães Pigozzo and Dr. Eduardo Mariano Neto add helpful and valuable comments in previous versions of this manuscript. Dr. Cory S. Sheffield add helpful comments and did the English revision. We also thank the Landscape Ecology Editor and the two anonymous reviewers for their excellent contributions to the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10980_2015_231_MOESM1_ESM.doc (143 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 143 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrícia A. Ferreira
    • 1
  • Danilo Boscolo
    • 1
  • Luísa G. Carvalheiro
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  • Jacobus C. Biesmeijer
    • 3
    • 5
  • Pedro L. B. Rocha
    • 6
  • Blandina F. Viana
    • 6
  1. 1.Biology Department, Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and LettersUniversity of São PauloRibeirão PretoBrazil
  2. 2.School of BiologyUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  3. 3.Naturalis Biodiversity CenterLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Departament of EcologyUniversity of BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil
  5. 5.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem DynamicsUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Biology InstituteFederal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil

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