Pollinator Monitoring

There is growing concern in Britain and beyond for the decline of pollinators and the ecosystem services that they provide (e.g. Biesmeijer et. al., 2006; Powney et. al., 2019). Domestically, this has resulted in much recent activity including the UK Insect Pollinator Initiative and publication of the England National Pollinator Strategy (DEFRA, 2014). Britain may support as many as 6000 species of flower-visiting insect (Falk, unpublished data), most of which are likely to be pollinators of varying effectiveness. This important ecological assemblage plays a crucial role in the long-term viability of habitats and ecosystems and is responsible for pollinating many of the crops we depend upon (Ollerton, 2020).

The structured pollinator surveying and monitoring initiated at Wytham Woods provides an exciting opportunity to check the flower-visiting assemblages for what is clearly a very fine and important wildlife site, and to see if changes and trends can be detected. Hopefully this work can contribute to national efforts to monitor, understand and promote pollinators, and provide a basis for involving students, volunteer naturalists and other 'citizen scientists' in monitoring flower-visiting insects.

- Steven Falk, 2021

 

     

    Steven Falk handles a bee

    The Pollinator Monitoring programme was initiated in 2017 with the following aims:

    1. Develop a list of all the flower-visiting insects to assess the richness and characteristics of this assemblage and consider the conservation issues that might be associated with pollinators;
    2. Initiate long-term, standardised monitoring of pollinators to help identify and understand any long-term changes that might be taking place;
    3. Produce a detailed dataset that can be analysed by others.

    Steven Falk has prepared a report on the pollinators which he has surveyed at Wytham Woods between 2017 and 2020. Version 1 of the report can be downloaded below:

     

    Further reports on moths and butterflies will be added to this section in due course.

    Pollinator Surveyors have included:

    Steven Falk (bees, flies, wasps)

    Douglas Boyes (moths)

    Charlie Hackforth (butterflies)

    Some natural cross-over is achieved between other projects at Wytham, such as the Genome Project. Liam Crowley's sampling of insects for genome sequencing is invaluable to our pollinator records. Tonya Lander's research on the movement of pollinators has also contributed to the record, and we also have additional insect records prior to 2017 compiled by Ceri Watkins.

    The pollinator surveys are co-ordinated by Fergus Chadwick, who also supports the Oxford Plan Bee project led by Tonya Lander.