Native bees under threat from growing urbanization

Native bees under threat from growing urbanisation
Credit: Kit Prendergast

Residential gardens are a poor substitute for native bushland and increasing urbanization is a growing threat when it comes to bees, Curtin University research has found.

Published in Urban Ecosystems, the research looked at bee visits to flowers, which form pollination networks across different native bushland and home garden habitats.

Lead author, Forrest Foundation Scholar Miss Kit Prendergast, from Curtin's School of Molecular and Life Sciences said the findings highlight the need to prevent destruction of remaining bushland and preserve , in order to protect sustainable bee communities and their pollination services.

"Our study involved spending hundreds of hours at 14 sites on the Swan Coastal Plain at Perth, Western Australia, recording which visited which flowers in the two types of habitats—gardens and native bushland," Miss Prendergast said.

"From these bee-plant interactions I was able to map pollination networks, which could be analyzed to determine how 'healthy' each habitat was for bees and the pollination services it provided, as well as how much potential competition there was between different bee groups, such as between introduced European honeybees and native bee groups.

"We found residential gardens were structurally different to those in bushland remnants, and the increasing loss of these native areas for could disrupt important bee-plant interactions."

Miss Prendergast said that while bushland remnants were more favorable environments for thriving pollination networks of bees and flowers, the chance of bee populations completely disappearing from an area was higher than in residential gardens.

"This suggests that, if disrupted for , bee and plant populations in native bushland remnants would be even more prone to extinctions," Miss Prendergast said.

"The research shows the importance of bushland preservation to the survival and health of bee populations and the broader ecosystems.

"This has implications for the conservation of wild bee populations in this , and suggests removal of remnant native vegetation for residential development could disrupt the balance and integrity of local ecosystems and lead to extinctions."

More information: Kit S. Prendergast et al. Plant-pollinator networks in Australian urban bushland remnants are not structurally equivalent to those in residential gardens, Urban Ecosystems (2021). DOI: 10.1007/s11252-020-01089-w

Provided by Curtin University

Citation: Native bees under threat from growing urbanization (2021, February 2) retrieved 26 September 2023 from
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