Guy Mercer

Guy Mercer

Profile Display Name:

Guy Mercer

E-mail Address:

Start Year

2019 (Cohort 6)

Research interests:
Hobbies and interests:

PhD Project
PhD Title

Assessing the Risk of Insecticide Formulations to Wild Bees: Are Co-Formulants “Inert” or Threat Amplifiers?

Research Theme

Environmental Hazards and Pollution

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


Additional supervisor(s)

Professor Elli Leadbeater (Royal Holloway University London),


Flupyradifurone (FPF) is a novel insecticide licenced in over 30 countries worldwide for use on bee attractive crops. The overemphasis of regulatory testing on worker mortality in one surrogate species, the honey bee, repeatedly results in the approval of agrochemicals that pose a risk to wild eusocial bee species. Consequently, the additional testing undertaken by the academic community is crucial to adequately appraise the risk these agrochemicals pose. For this reason, it must itself be appropriate.
Currently, there is a paucity of research surrounding the risk that FPF may pose to bumblebee species at field-realistic concentrations, especially its fitness effects at the colony level: a recent literature search found only one study characterising the effects of FPF on bumblebee species. The same literature search highlighted another issue: the majority of existing studies selected pure FPF as a treatment, instead of its most widespread commercial formulation, Sivanto, which is actually released into the environment. This highlights an assumption by the academic community that the commercial formulation (Sivanto), which contains many untested co-formulants, and the pure active ingredient (FPF) exhibit similar effects, which may be incorrect.
To address this, we intend to perform a comparative study between Sivanto and technical grade FPF on the bumblebee, B. terrestris, to determine if the risk posed by the two differs. The project will utilise a combination of B. terrestris based models, including queenright colonies and microcolonies, to elucidate any potential differences in fitness effects between Sivanto and pure FPF. For both parts of the project the dosage regime will be based on existing field residue studies and exposure will occur via both nectar and pollen, which will enable close modelling of real-world exposure. Overall, the project will determine if co-formulants can amplify the threat insecticides pose to an important generalist pollinator.

Policy Impact

Showcasing the shortcomings of existing ecological risk assessment frameworks will help accelerate their redesign, with a focus on fitness and sub-lethal effects, rather than mortality.

Background Reading
  • Roundup causes high levels of mortality following contact exposure in bumble bees
  • Lethal and sublethal synergistic effects of a new systemic pesticide, flupyradifurone (Sivanto®), on honeybees
  • Consequences of a short time exposure to a sublethal dose of Flupyradifurone (Sivanto) pesticide early in life on survival and immunity in the honeybee (Apis mellifera)
  • Publications



    Social Links
    University Departmental Website:
    Personal Website:



    Stay informed

    Click here to subscribe to our RSS newsletter by email.

    Find Us

    University College London is the administrative lead.

    North-West Wing, UCL, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT

    Follow us on Twitter