The potential of restored landfill sites to support pollinating insects

  • Sam Tarrant

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Habitat restoration is an important tool in reducing the current decline in biodiversity. To determine the success of restoration, ecologists have previously focused on species richness or on the presence of rare species; little is known of species interactions. This study examines both the potential of restored landfill sites to support pollinating insects and how flower-insect interactions can be used in determining successful restoration. These are important attributes of ecosystem function. Standard belt transects were used to record flowering insect pollinated plants and flower-visiting insects on nine paired restored landfill and reference nature sites, in the broader Northamptonshire region (UK). Over the duration of this study, an area of 25,000m2 was surveyed for floral characteristics and approximately 138,000 floral units were counted from 98 plant species. A total of 201 flower visitor surveys were performed, with 942 flower-visiting insect samples taken. Flowering plant species richness and abundance of floral resources on restored landfill sites were not found to be significantly different from those on reference sites and the flower-visiting insect assemblages were similar in terms of species-richness and abundance. Interaction structures were examined and whilst the plant-insect assemblages had few species in common, both showed similar levels of nestedness and connectance. The differences in the species but similarity in the functioning of these assemblages emphasise the importance of examining interaction structures within a functional approach to the evaluation of restoration. There are 2,200 landfill sites in England and Wales covering some 28,000 ha, and this study highlights that their restoration can potentially provide an important resource for the conservation of pollinating insects and the services that they provide for both natural and agricultural plants.
Date of Award2009
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Northampton
SupervisorJeff Ollerton (Supervisor)

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