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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2016

Predicting bee community responses to land-use changes: Effects of geographic and taxonomic biases

De Palma, Adriana; Öckinger, Erik; Purvis, Andy


Land-use change and intensification threaten bee populations worldwide, imperilling pollination services. Global models are needed to better characterise, project, and mitigate bees' responses to these human impacts. The available data are, however, geographically and taxonomically unrepresentative; most data are from North America and Western Europe, overrepresenting bumblebees and raising concerns that model results may not be generalizable to other regions and taxa. To assess whether the geographic and taxonomic biases of data could undermine effectiveness of models for conservation policy, we have collated from the published literature a global dataset of bee diversity at sites facing land-use change and intensification, and assess whether bee responses to these pressures vary across 11 regions (Western, Northern, Eastern and Southern Europe; North, Central and South America; Australia and New Zealand; South East Asia; Middle and Southern Africa) and between bumblebees and other bees. Our analyses highlight strong regionally-based responses of total abundance, species richness and Simpson's diversity to land use, caused by variation in the sensitivity of species and potentially in the nature of threats. These results suggest that global extrapolation of models based on geographically and taxonomically restricted data may underestimate the true uncertainty, increasing the risk of ecological surprises.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2016, volume: 6, article number: 31153

Authors' information

De Palma, Adriana
Imperial College London
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Purvis, Andy
Imperial College London

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