The combined effects of a monotonous diet and exposure to thiamethoxam on the performance of bumblebee micro-colonies

Dance, C, Botías, C and Goulson, D (2017) The combined effects of a monotonous diet and exposure to thiamethoxam on the performance of bumblebee micro-colonies. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 139. pp. 194-201. ISSN 0147-6513

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There is a pressing need to better understand the factors contributing to declines of wild pollinators such as bumblebees. Many different contributors have been postulated including: loss of flower-rich habitats and nesting sites; monotonous diets; impacts of invasive pathogens; exposure to pesticides such as neonicotinoids. Past research has tended to investigate the impacts of these stressors in isolation, despite the increasing recognition that bees are simultaneously exposed to a combination of stressors, with potentially additive or synergistic effects. No studies to date have investigated the combined effects of a monotonous diet and exposure to pesticides. Using queenless micro-colonies of Bombus terrestris audax, we examined this interaction by providing bees with monofloral or polyfloral pollen that was either contaminated with field-realistic levels of thiamethoxam, a commonly used neonicotinoid, or not contaminated. Both treatments were found to have a significant effect on various parameters relating to micro-colony performance. Specifically, both pesticide-treated micro-colonies and those fed monofloral pollen grew more slowly than those given polyfloral pollen or pollen without pesticides. The two factors appeared to act additively. Micro-colonies given monofloral pollens also exhibited lower reproductive efforts and produced smaller drones. Although further research is needed to examine whether similar effects are found in whole colonies, these findings increase our understanding of the likely effects of multiple stressors associated with agricultural intensification on bee declines.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: David Goulson
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2017 11:56
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 04:55

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