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The use of off-farm habitats by foraging bumblebees in agricultural landscapes: implications for conservation management


Recent studies have focused on ways to enhance floral availability on arable farmland, but little attention has been paid to the importance of off-farm habitats in providing forage for pollinators within farmed landscapes. We conducted a comparative study to assess bumblebees and flower abundance on farmed and off-farm habitats in two low-intensity systems in the UK, the Somerset Levels and the Outer Hebrides. In both farming systems, both on- and off-farm habitats contributed to the mosaic of bumblebee forage. In the Somerset Levels, track edges and road verges were particularly important sources of forage for long-tongued bumblebees. Cattle-grazed pasture in Somerset and winter-grazed pasture in the Outer Hebrides were also notable sources of bumblebee forage. Non-agricultural habitats need to be integrated into local land management plans to ensure the provision of forage for bumblebees throughout the breeding season.

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We thank Scottish Natural Heritage for funding this research. We would also like to thank all the landowners in the Outer Hebrides and the Somerset Levels who allowed us access to their land. We also thank the three anonymous referees for comments on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Lynne M. Osgathorpe.

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Utilisation, par les bourdons, des habitats non-cultivés dans les paysages agricoles: implications dans des aménagements à but de conservation.

Bombus / approvisionnement/ utilisation des habitats/ bord de route/ pâturage

Die Nützlichkeit von Habitaten außerhalb der landwirtschaftlichen Flächen in Agrargebieten für sammelnde Hummeln: Bedeutung für den Artenschutz

Bombus / Sammeln / Habitatnutzung / Straßenrand /Weide

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Osgathorpe, L.M., Park, K. & Goulson, D. The use of off-farm habitats by foraging bumblebees in agricultural landscapes: implications for conservation management. Apidologie 43, 113–127 (2012).

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  • Bombus
  • foraging
  • habitat use
  • road verge
  • grazing