Skip to main content
Log in

The effect of grazing on bumblebees in the high rangelands of the eastern Tibetan Plateau of Sichuan

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Journal of Insect Conservation Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Many Tibetans who were formerly nomadic yak herders are settling near towns. However, yak remain a traditional symbol of wealth, which can lead to increased local stocking densities and severe over-grazing. We used belt-transect counts to study the area around Hongyuan in Sichuan. We find that intensive summer grazing significantly reduces the vegetation height and is associated with significant reductions in bumblebee-food-plant abundance and bumblebee diversity. For the significantly reduced bumblebee species, we identify the most frequently used and preferred bumblebee-food plants. For the food plants, we identify changes in absolute flower availability and changes in bumblebee visits. In particular, reductions in the bumblebees Bombus supremus, B. filchnerae, B. humilis and B. impetuosus are associated with reductions in flowers of the food plants Hedysarum and Saussurea.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Alford DV (1975) Bumblebees. Davis-Poynter, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Bäckman JC, Tiainen J (2002) Habitat quality of field margins in a Finnish farmland area for bumblebees (Hymenoptera: Bombus and Psithyrus). Agr Ecosyst Environ 89:53–68

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Banaszak J (1980) Studies on methods of censussing the numbers of bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea). Pol Ecol Stud 6:355–366

    Google Scholar 

  • Bao WK, Wu N (2003) Human-induced disturbance on alpine and sub alpine meadows and its after effects in Deqin County of the northwestern Yunnan Province. Grassland China 25:1–8

    Google Scholar 

  • Benton T (2006) Bumblebees, the natural history and identification of the species found in Britain. Collins, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Carvell C (2002) Habitat use and conservation of bumblebees (Bombus spp.) under different grassland management regimes. Biol Conserv 103:33–49

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carvell C, Meek WR, Pywell RF et al (2004) The response of foraging bumblebees to successional change in newly created arable field margins. Biol Conserv 118:327–339

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Carvell C, Roy DB, Smart SM et al (2006) Declines in forage availability for bumblebees at a national scale. Biol Conserv 132:481–489

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Croxton PJ, Carvell C, Mountford JO et al (2002) A comparison of green lanes and field margins as bumblebee habitat in an arable landscape. Biol Conserv 107:365–374

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dramstad W, Fry G (1995) Foraging activity of bumblebees (Bombus) in relation to flower resources on arable land. Agr Ecosyst Environ 53:123–135

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Edwards M (2003) U.K. B.A.P. Bumblebee Working Group Report, 2002. Privately published, Midhurst, pp. 45

  • Fitzpatrick U, Murray TE, Paxton RJ et al (2007) Rarity and decline in bumblebees—a test of causes and correlates in the Irish fauna. Biol Conserv 136:185–194

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gao J (2006) Degradation factor analysis and solutions of Ruoergai wetland in Sichuan. Sichuan Environ 25:48–53

    Google Scholar 

  • Ghazoul J (2005) Buzziness as usual? Questioning the global pollination crisis? Trends Ecol Evol 7:368–373

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibson CWD, Brown VK, Losito L et al (1992) The response of invertebrate assemblies to grazing. Ecography 15:166–176

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goulson D, Hanley ME, Darvill B et al (2005) Causes of rarity in bumblebees. Biol Conserv 122:1–8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Goverde M, Schweizer K, Baur B et al (2002) Small-scale habitat fragmentation effects on pollinator behavior: experimental evidence from the bumblebee Bombus veteranus on calcareous grasslands. Biol Conserv 104:293–299

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hatfield RG, LeBuhm G (2007) Patch and landscape factors shape community assemblage of bumble bees, Bombus spp. (Hymenoptera: Apidae), in montane meadows. Biol Conserv 139:150–158

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kearns CA, Thomson JD (2001) The natural history of bumblebees a sourcebook for investigations. University Press of Colorado, Boulder

    Google Scholar 

  • Kells AR, Goulson D (2003) Preferred nesting sites of bumblebees queens (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in agroecosystems in the UK. Biol Conserv 109:165–174

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kevan PG (1999) Pollinators as bioindicators of the state of the environment: species, activity and diversity. Agr Ecosyst Environ 74:373–393

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kleijn D, Berendse F, Smit R et al (2001) Agri-environment schemes do not effectively protect biodiversity in Dutch agricultural landscapes. Nature (Lond) 413:723–725

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Kreyer D, Oed A, Walther-Hellwing K et al (2004) Are forests potential landscapes barriers for foraging bumblebees? Landscape scale experiments with Bombus terrestris agg. and Bomus pascuorum (Hymenoptera, Apidae). Biol Conserv 116:111–118

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li HM, An SZ, Zhu JZ et al (2003) Optimized model of seasonal grassland after settlement for herdsmen. Chin J Ecol 22:5–8

    Google Scholar 

  • Macior LW, Tang Y (1997) A preliminary study of the pollination ecology of Pedicularis in the Chinese Himalaya. Plant Species Biol 12:1–7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Macior LW, Tang Y, Zhang JC (2001) Reproductive biology of Pedicularis (Scrophulariaceae) in the Sichuan Himalaya. Plant Species Biol 16:83–89

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MAFF (1998) The countryside stewardship scheme. MAFF Publications, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Mänd M, Mänd R, Williams IH (2002) Bumblebees in the agriculture landscape of Estonia. Agr Ecosyst Environ 89:69–76

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meek B, Loxton D, Sparks T et al (2002) The effect of arable margin composition on invertebrate biodiversity. Biol Conserv 106:259–271

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Memmott J, Waser NM, Price MV (2004) Tolerance of pollination networks to species extinctions. Proc R Soc London Sci Ser B 271:2605–2611

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Osborne JL, Williams IH (2001) Site constancy of bumble bees in an experimentally patchy habitat. Agr Ecosyst Environ 83:129–141

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Osborne JL, Williams IH, Corbet SA (1991) Bees, pollination and habitat change in the European community. Bee Wld 72:99–116

    Google Scholar 

  • Osborne JL, Clark SJ, Morris RJ et al (1999) A landscape-scale study of bumble bee foraging range and constancy, using harmonic radar. J Appl Ecol 36:519–533

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pywell RF, Warman EA, Carvell C et al (2005) Providing foraging resources for bumblebees in intensively farmed landscape. Biol Conserv 121:479–494

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rasmont P (1988) Monographie écologique et zoogéographique des bourdons de France et de Belgique (Hymenoptera, Apidae, Bombinae). PhD Thesis, Faculte des Sciences agronomiques de l’Etat, Gembloux

  • Sepp K, Mikk M, Mänd M et al (2004) Bumblebee communities as an indicator for landscape survey in the agri-environmental programme. Landsc Urban Plan 67:173–183

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sepp K, Ivask M, Kaasik A et al (2005) Soil biota indicators for monitoring the Estonian agri-environmental programme. Agr Ecosyst Environ 108:264–273

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • SMB (Sichuan Meteorological Bureau) (undated) Compiled meteorological data of Sichuan for the period 1950–1980. Sichuan Meteorological Bureau, Chengdu

  • Svensson B, Lagerlöfj J, Svensson BG (2000) Habitat preferences of nest-seeking bumble bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in an agricultural landscape. Agr Ecosyst Environ 77:247–255

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Walther-Hellwig K, Frankl R (2000) Foraging habitats and foraging distances of bumblebees, Bombus spp. (Hym., Apidae), in an agricultural landscape. J Appl Entomol 124:299–306

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH (1986) Environmental change and the distributions of British bumble bees (Bombus Latr.). Bee Wld 67:50–61

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH (1988) Habitat use by bumble bees (Bombus spp.). Ecol Entomol 13:223–237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH (1989) Why are there so many species of bumble bees at Dungeness? Bot J Linn Soc 101:31–44

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH (1998) An annotated checklist of bumble bees with an analysis of patterns of description (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini). Bull nat Hist Mus Lond (Ent) 67:79–152

    Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH (2005) Does specialization explain rarity and decline among British bumblebees? A response to Goulson et al. Biol Conserv 122:33–43

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Williams PH, Tang Y, Yao J et al (2008) The bumblebees of Sichuan (Hymenoptera: Apidae, Bombini). Syst Biodiv 6 (in press)

  • Xiang J, Tang Y (2006) Intensive agriculture and its environmental consequences. World Sci-Tech Res Dev 27:81–87

    Google Scholar 

  • Yang DR (1999) The status of species diversity and conservation strategy of bumble bees, a pollination insect in Lancang River Basin of Yunnan, China. Chin Biodiv 7:170–174

    Google Scholar 

  • Yao TD, Liu XD, Wang NL et al (2000) Amplitude of climatic changes in Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau. Chin Sci Bull 45:1236–1243

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang YG (2004) Historic spanning on the state of habitation—new village planning for Tibetan nation in Hongyuan. Sichuan Archit J 6:11–12

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhao ZC (1996) Study of communities of aquatic vascular plants in Hongyuan county of Sichuan province. J Wuhan Bot Res 14:213–222

    Google Scholar 

  • Zhou HM, Zen LX, Yu GN et al (1999) Analysis, utilization and protection of wetland resources in the Northwest Plateau of Sichuan Province. Southwest China J Agric Sci S1:69–70

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

We thank Juliet Osborne for discussion and two referees for helpful comments. This study was funded jointly by the 111 Project (No. B08037), a grant of National Science Foundation of China to Ya Tang (Grant number 40171038), and by the Chinese Scholarship Council.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Paul H. Williams.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Xie, Z., Williams, P.H. & Tang, Y. The effect of grazing on bumblebees in the high rangelands of the eastern Tibetan Plateau of Sichuan. J Insect Conserv 12, 695–703 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-008-9180-3

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10841-008-9180-3

Keywords

Navigation