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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Roads may act as barriers to flying insects: species composition of bees and wasps differs on two sides of a large highway

Andersson, Petter; Koffman, Anna; Sjodin, N. Erik; Johansson, Victor


Roads may act as barriers to animal movements, but direct barrier effects on insects have rarely been studied. In this study we collected data on bees and wasps along two sides of a large road in Sweden using yellow pan traps. We then analyzed if the species composition differed between the two sides of the road; first for the whole community, and then only for the smallest species (which typically are poorer dispersers). As a complement, we analyzed if different vegetation variables differed between the two sides of the road, as this may also affect differences in species composition. Finally, we analyzed if species richness and abundance in general differed between the two sides and how these two response variables were explained by the vegetation variables. There was a significant difference in species composition between the eastern and the western side of the road when analyzing the whole community, and this relationship became even stronger when the largest species were excluded. The vegetation variables did not strongly differ between the two sides, and there was no difference in species richness and abundance of bees and wasps either. Abundance was, however, explained by the number of flowering plants in the surroundings of the trap. Even though using a rather limited data set, our results indicate that large roads may act as barriers on the movement of bees and wasps, especially for small species with poor dispersal ability. On the other hand, road verges may be important habitat for many species, which leads to a potential conflict that is important to consider in the planning of green infrastructure.


Infrastructure; barrier effects; habitat fragmentation; Aculeata; wild bees

Published in

Nature Conservation
2017, number: 18, pages: 47-59

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG9 Industry, innovation and infrastructure

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