Saving a higher buzz: research-driven conservation of the shrill carder bumblebee

Theme: Biodiversity, Ecology & Conservation

Primary Supervisor:

Mark Brown

School of Biological Sciences, RHUL

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Secondary Supervisor:

Paul Williams

Life Sciences Department, NHM

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Project Description:

Bumblebees provide the key ecosystem service of pollination to wild plants and crops. Consequently, their declines around the globe threaten not only their own intrinsic right to exist, but animal and plant biodiversity more broadly. The Shrill carder bee (Bombus sylvarum) is the most threatened bumblebee species in England and Wales. As such, it is the focus of conservation efforts to mitigate and reverse its ongoing decline. A Conservation Strategy for the Shrill carder bee Bombus sylvarum in England and Wales, 2020-2030, to which the supervisors contributed, identified key research needs to underpin conservation. This project will address these needs. Specifically, it will use a combination of cutting-edge methods in fieldwork, population genetics, and climate & landscape modeling to (i) understand current and future habitat and range requirements for the design of connected landscapes and possible re-introductions, (ii) provide insight into inbreeding and fragmentation impacts on population health, and develop strategies to mitigate them, and (iii) elucidate ecological requirements for the support of wild populations, to facilitate advanced and focused habitat management. Overall, it will play a significant role in the conservation of this important and charismatic bee.

Policy Impact of Research:

This project will provide key information to support the conservation of this charismatic species through cutting edge science. It will be actively integrated into conservation on the ground, providing significant impact on conservation policy and practice, and act as a case study for similar conservation needs around the globe.

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