Nectar Abundance in Semi-natural Species-Rich Grassland Compared to Agri-Environmental Wildflower Strips

King, Helen (2023) Nectar Abundance in Semi-natural Species-Rich Grassland Compared to Agri-Environmental Wildflower Strips. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/9AQ7MY94

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Land use change including agricultural intensification have caused pollinators to decline. Given the extensive pollinator loss, it has become important to quantify their food resource to help develop and improve conservation actions. Nectar resources have been measured within urban and rural landscapes, but few studies have undertaken a comparative quantification for agri-environmental schemes such as semi-natural species-rich grasslands and planted agri-environmental wildflower strips, leaving an important knowledge gap in plant-pollinator interactions and food resources within these habitats. This study quantified the nectar supply of two habitats - semi natural species rich grasslands and planted agri-environmental wildflower strips in three farms in the Cotswolds and West Midlands. Overall, thirty-six flowering plants were identified and assigned a nectar sugar value using secondary data to enable the comparison of nectar between the two habitats. Twenty-eight pollinator species were identified within the 90 quadrats and were assigned a behaviour of feeding, collecting pollen, foraging, and resting to investigate how pollinators within the groups Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera interacted with the flowering plant species identified. The planted agri-environmental wildflower strips provided twice as much nectar than the semi-natural species-rich grassland. Which was underpinned by a low number of flowering plants, Centaurea nigra and Leucanthemum vulgare providing most of the nectar resources. A total of 228 pollinator visits were recorded. Though no significant results the pollinators did use the habitats differently. Butterflies were found mostly in the semi-natural species-rich grassland and bumblebees and hoverflies mostly found within the planted agri-environmental wildflower strips. These results indicate that pollinators are using the habitats differently for their resources needs of food and nesting. Centaurea nigra was highest visited flowering plant with 48% of the total visits. There were two significant relationships with floral traits that attracted pollinator visits, which were the amount of open floral units and the nectar value.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Award conferred by the University of Gloucestershire in partnership with the Royal Agricultural University.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Agri-environmental wildflower strips; Semi-natural species-rich grassland; Nectar; Pollinators
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2024 15:13
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2024 15:20

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