Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Biologists design method to monitor global bee decline

Date:
December 20, 2012
Source:
San Francisco State University
Summary:
A new study has found that a global network of bee traps may form an early warning system alerting scientists to dangers threatening the world's food system and economies.

A researcher checks a pan trap to identify bee species.
Credit: Derek Masaki

A global network of people monitoring bee populations may form an early warning system alerting scientists to dangers threatening the world's food system and economies.

"My goal is to give agencies all around the world an effective way to monitor bees," said San Francisco State University Professor of Biology Gretchen LeBuhn, lead author of a United Nations-sponsored study. "Biologists have talked a lot about how bee populations are declining, but I don't think we actually have good data that acts as an early warning signal for possible problems with our food system."

In an article published online Dec. 12 in the journal Conservation Biology, LeBuhn and her co-authors outlined a simple and cost-effective method for enacting a monitoring system. The study found that counting and identifying bees regularly for five years at about 200 locations would produce data accurate enough to detect two to five percent annual declines in bee populations. The program is estimated to cost $2 million and include international sampling sites, although it could be scaled to fit different regional monitoring needs.

"The estimated cost of sustaining an international monitoring program is a relatively small investment compared to the potential economic cost of severe pollinator losses," the study said. Thirty-five percent of the global food supply depends on bees and other pollinators, including crops worth nearly $200 billion each year, according to LeBuhn.

"A monitoring program should be simple, repeatable, inexpensive, and, most importantly, have the ability to quickly detect declines if they are occurring," the study said.

The proposed system relies on paid workers around the globe to count and identify bees using simple "pan traps," in which bees are attracted to a brightly-colored pan filled with liquid. To determine scalable sampling techniques, costs and time scales for completing the work, the researchers designed simulations using data from eleven previously published multi-year studies.

The research was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and the monitoring program has already been used in Brazil, Ghana, India, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan and South Africa, with support from the Global Environment Facility and United Nations Environment Programme. LeBuhn said the long-term goal for the project is to establish a network of monitoring stations to provide data for a global analysis.

"We hope to eventually centralize some of the data collection so that people who are counting bees regionally can contribute to a larger data set."

LeBuhn is also known for organizing the annual "Great Sunflower Project," in which 100,000 citizen scientists across North America volunteer to count bee populations in their own backyards. The project, now in its fifth year, recently found low numbers of bees in urban areas across America, adding weight to the theory that habitat loss is one of the primary reasons for sharp population declines.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by San Francisco State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gretchen Lebuhn, Sam Droege, Edward F. Connor, Barbara Gemmill-Herren, Simon G. Potts, Robert L. Minckley, Terry Griswold, Robert Jean, Emanuel Kula, David W. Roubik, Jim Cane, Karen W. Wright, Gordon Frankie, Frank Parker. Detecting Insect Pollinator Declines on Regional and Global Scales. Conservation Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01962.x

Cite This Page:

San Francisco State University. "Biologists design method to monitor global bee decline." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220144205.htm>.
San Francisco State University. (2012, December 20). Biologists design method to monitor global bee decline. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220144205.htm
San Francisco State University. "Biologists design method to monitor global bee decline." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121220144205.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Rescuers were forced to suspend plans to recover at least two dozen bodies from near the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Tuesday after increased seismic activity raised concern about the possibility of another eruption. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins