Insects play a crucial role in most terrestrial
ecosystems, and one of the key functions they perform is providing
pollination services. Pollinating insects include a wide variety
of orders that are vital for effective pollination of wild plants
and crops [1, 2], and their loss can have a cascading impact on
other species . Populations of pollinators are being lost due
to habitat degradation and fragmentation across the world [3, 4].
For example, bumblebees have been decreasing in both diversity and
abundance, mainly due to loss of habitat from agricultural intensification
, and the research community seems to be in consensus that the
decline in pollinators is an important issue in conservation biology
There has been considerable interest in
restoration of habitats, but only recently has this specifically
centered on restoring pollinator communities. One possible large
reserve of land for habitat restoration and creation is landfill
sites that have reached the end of their working life. There are
approximately 2,200 working landfill sites in England and Wales,
and they are closing at a rate of about 100 per year . If the
closing sites can be restored in a way that supports pollinating
insect communities, then this may have positive effects for biodiversity
conservation efforts. Research has been conducted on the potential
for restored landfill sites for community forests , but no such
work has been related to pollinating insect assemblages.
This project is aimed at understanding the potential
of restored landfill sites for supporting ecological habitats suitable
for pollinators. The major research questions are:
- How is the plant assemblage being affected
by the landfill site in terms of plant growth, phenology, and
- What factors are affecting the pollinator
- How is the assemblage of pollinators
structured, comparing restored landfill with control areas?
- an these results be used to understand
the broader factors relating to the potential of restored landfill
sites to support pollinating insects?
Field Research Methods
The approach being used in this research will
be similar to that used by Forup and Memmott 2005 ; three 100
x 2 m transects will be randomly chosen in the study area. The transect
will then be surveyed for entomophilous plant species, and following
a 20-minute break, will be surveyed for flower-visiting insects.
Surveys will be conducted on the sites on three days through spring,
summer, and early autumn. Sampling will be carried out on sunny
days with no more than moderate wind speeds. The data collected
will be used to examine the pollinator and plant assemblages including
species diversity and structure. Interaction webs will be examined,
and measures of plant fitness will be analyzed.
Tarrant, S., Ollerton, J., Rahman, L. Md., Griffin, J. & McCollin, D. (2012) Grassland restoration on landfill sites in the East Midlands, UK: an evaluation of floral resources and pollinating insects. Restoration Ecology in press (pdf 670KB)
- Dicks, L.V., S.A. Corbet, and R.F. Pywell.
(2002) J. Anim. Ecol. 71:32-43.
- Kevan, P.G. (1999) Agr. Ecosyst. Environ.
- Allen-Wardell, G., et al. (1998) Conserv.
- Corbet, S.A. (2000) Conserv. Biol. 14:1229-1231.
- Forup, M.L., and J. Memmott. (2005)
Ecol. Entomol. 30:47-57.
- Carvell, C., et al. (2006) Biol. Conserv.
- Morandin, L.A., et al. (2007) Basic
Appl. Ecol. 8:117-124.
(2006) What are landfill sites? [cited 1/10/2006].
- Rawlinson, H., et al. (2004) Forest
Ecol. Manag. 202:265-280.
- Forup, M.L., and J. Memmott. (2005) Restor.
- This Ph.D. research project has been
funded by the Sita Environmental Trust, through money gained from
the landfill tax credit scheme. I welcome any comments or suggestions
regarding this research.