Extinctions of aculeate pollinators in Britain and the role of large-scale agricultural changes

Jeff Ollerton, Hilary E Erenler, Mike Edwards, Robin G M Crockett

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Abstract

Pollinators are fundamental to maintaining both biodiversity and agricultural productivity, but habitat destruction, loss of flower resources, and increased use of pesticides are causing declines in their abundance and diversity. Using historical records we assessed the rate of extinction of bee and flower-visiting wasp species in Britain, from the mid 19th century to the present. The most rapid phase of extinction appears to be related to changes in agricultural policy and practice beginning in the 1920s, before the agricultural intensification prompted by the Second World War, often cited as the most important driver of biodiversity loss in Britain. Slowing of the extinction rate from the 1960s onwards may be due to prior loss of the most sensitive species and/or effective conservation programs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience
Volume346
Issue number6215
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2014

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agricultural change
pollinator
extinction
biodiversity
flower visiting
agricultural intensification
agricultural policy
historical record
agricultural practice
wasp
bee
flower
pesticide
productivity
resource
loss
rate

Cite this

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abstract = "Pollinators are fundamental to maintaining both biodiversity and agricultural productivity, but habitat destruction, loss of flower resources, and increased use of pesticides are causing declines in their abundance and diversity. Using historical records we assessed the rate of extinction of bee and flower-visiting wasp species in Britain, from the mid 19th century to the present. The most rapid phase of extinction appears to be related to changes in agricultural policy and practice beginning in the 1920s, before the agricultural intensification prompted by the Second World War, often cited as the most important driver of biodiversity loss in Britain. Slowing of the extinction rate from the 1960s onwards may be due to prior loss of the most sensitive species and/or effective conservation programs.",
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Extinctions of aculeate pollinators in Britain and the role of large-scale agricultural changes. / Ollerton, Jeff; Erenler, Hilary E; Edwards, Mike; Crockett, Robin G M.

In: Science, Vol. 346, No. 6215, 12.12.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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AU - Edwards, Mike

AU - Crockett, Robin G M

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AB - Pollinators are fundamental to maintaining both biodiversity and agricultural productivity, but habitat destruction, loss of flower resources, and increased use of pesticides are causing declines in their abundance and diversity. Using historical records we assessed the rate of extinction of bee and flower-visiting wasp species in Britain, from the mid 19th century to the present. The most rapid phase of extinction appears to be related to changes in agricultural policy and practice beginning in the 1920s, before the agricultural intensification prompted by the Second World War, often cited as the most important driver of biodiversity loss in Britain. Slowing of the extinction rate from the 1960s onwards may be due to prior loss of the most sensitive species and/or effective conservation programs.

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