Honeybees have been introduced worldwide, and, therefore, often cohabit with wild pollinators. As their hives can host more than 50,000 individuals, their abundance in natural and managed habitats can be extremely high. In this context, Safeguard partners observed plant–pollinator interactions in 51 grasslands, and measured functional traits of both plants and pollinators.
The paper ‘Functional traits of plants and pollinators explain resource overlap between honeybees and wild pollinators’, co-written by Safeguard partners of University of Padua, was recently published in the international peer-reviewed journal Oecologia. Researchers found that functional characteristics of both plants and pollinators affected the likelihood of interactions between wild pollinators and honeybees. The results, in particular, point to a possible role for plant functional variety in reducing resource overlap between wild pollinators and honeybees in regions with high honeybee densities while still maintaining wild pollinators. Additionally, because pollinator species with characteristics resembling those of the honeybee frequently visit the same plant species, they could be more sensitive to rivalry. From the perspective of conservation, special consideration should be given to the possible implications of beekeeping in areas where pollinator species of conservation concern possess functional features resembling those of the honeybee.
Read the full paper here.
Photo: Expected effects of functional diversity of plant community and trait similarity between wild pollinator community and the honeybee on plant–pollinator interactions.