Multiple threats placing insect pollinators under pressure
Understanding the factors placing insect pollinator populations most at risk is challenging, as it is unlikely that any given stress factor is experienced in isolation. Indeed, most stressors are experienced almost simultaneously, such as factors associated with agricultural practices alongside climate change. To fill this evidence gap we have been conducting factorial multi-stressor lab experiments to quantify the contribution of each. Furthermore, advances in genomic sequencing provide the opportunity to detect what factors have been putting populations under strong selective pressures.
Our research in this area has primarily studied bumblebees and involved:
1) Nutrition x pesticide experiments where we measure impacts on colony development
2) Temperature x pesticide experiments where we measure impacts on individual body temperature and flight, and colony temperature.
3) Detecting selective signatures in wild bumblebee genomes;
Learning from these results we can start to map how such potential risks are distributed to better understand 'stress exposure landscapes' and thus provide valuable information for ecological applications.