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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Neonicotinoid Insecticides and Their Impacts on Bees: A Systematic Review of Research Approaches and Identification of Knowledge Gaps

Lundin, Ola; Rundlöf, Maj; Smith, Henrik G.; Fries, Ingemar; Bommarco, Riccardo

Abstract

It has been suggested that the widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides threatens bees, but research on this topic has been surrounded by controversy. In order to synthesize which research approaches have been used to examine the effect of neonicotinoids on bees and to identify knowledge gaps, we systematically reviewed research on this subject that was available on the Web of Science and PubMed in June 2015. Most of the 216 primary research studies were conducted in Europe or North America (82%), involved the neonicotinoid imidacloprid (78%), and concerned the western honey bee Apis mellifera (75%). Thus, little seems to be known about neonicotinoids and bees in areas outside Europe and North America. Furthermore, because there is considerable variation in ecological traits among bee taxa, studies on honey bees are not likely to fully predict impacts of neonicotinoids on other species. Studies on crops were dominated by seed-treated maize, oilseed rape (canola) and sunflower, whereas less is known about potential side effects on bees from the use of other application methods on insect pollinated fruit and vegetable crops, or on lawns and ornamental plants. Laboratory approaches were most common, and we suggest that their capability to infer real-world consequences are improved when combined with information from field studies about realistic exposures to neonicotinoids. Studies using field approaches often examined only bee exposure to neonicotinoids and more field studies are needed that measure impacts of exposure. Most studies measured effects on individual bees. We suggest that effects on the individual bee should be linked to both mechanisms at the sub-individual level and also to the consequences for the colony and wider bee populations. As bees are increasingly facing multiple interacting pressures future research needs to clarify the role of neonicotinoids in relative to other drivers of bee declines.

Published in

PLoS ONE
2015, volume: 10, number: 8, article number: e0136928
Publisher: PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
University of California Davis (UC Davis)
Rundlöf, Maj
Lund University
Smith, Henrik G.
Lund University
Fries, Ingemar
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology

Associated SLU-program

SLUsystematic

UKÄ Subject classification

Other Biological Topics

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0136928

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/69929