Projects / Programmes source: ARRS

The design of the methodology for the monitoring of wild pollinators in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.03.01  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biology  Zoology and zoophysiology 

Code Science Field
B005  Biomedical sciences  Zoology 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
monitoring, wild pollinators, bumblebees, solitary bees, pollinator diversity, traps, environmental DNA
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (8)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publications
1.  30854  PhD Danilo Bevk  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2023  452 
2.  14006  PhD Andrej Gogala  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2023  338 
3.  32208  PhD Matjaž Gregorič  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2023  330 
4.  53740  Blaž Koderman    Technician  2020 - 2023  45 
5.  53739  Mojca Pibernik    Technician  2020 - 2023  39 
6.  50565  Urška Ratajc  Biology  Junior researcher  2019 - 2023  38 
7.  05231  PhD Meta Virant Doberlet  Biology  Researcher  2019 - 2023  276 
8.  21502  PhD Al Vrezec  Biology  Principal Researcher  2019 - 2023  1,001 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publications
1.  0105  National Institute of Biology  Ljubljana  5055784  13,222 
2.  0614  Slovenian Museum of Natural History  Ljubljana  5052670000  5,552 
3.  0618  Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts  Ljubljana  5105498000  58,874 
Insect pollination is one of the most important ecosystem services, vital both for the ecosystem functioning as well as for agricultural production. 4/5 of agriculture and wild plants are insect pollinating dependent. Service of insect pollination for agricultural production is estimated to 153 billions EUR yearly. Growth of population demand bigger food production for which pollination is crucial. Pollinators are an important indicators of biodiversity too.   Beside honeybee wild pollinators are more effective at pollinating and their role in ecosystem can be bigger than estimated just from their density and population size. Conservation of wild pollinators is crucial for reliable service of pollinating and keeping biodiversity high.   Most important among wild pollinators are wild bees i.e. bumblebees and solitary bees (in Slovenia in total 565 species were found). Frequent pollinators are also flies and butterflies as well as other insects but less common, for instance some beetles and wasps.   Populations of wild pollinators are rapidly declining. Main reasons for this are food shortage, due to intensive farming and climate changes, diseases, pesticides, lack of suitable nesting sites and alien species. Natural resources in Slovenia give wild pollinators population still big potential, but without a sustainable management strategy we are already losing it.   Population decline and drop of diversity is not well documented. In Europe more than half species of wild bees is not sufficient documented to estimate their status of jeopardy. First priority task of EU Pollinators Initiative is improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences and includes also development of cost-effective and standardised monitoring methodology.   Main goals of proposed project are (1) to develop monitoring methodology of wild pollinators and design model of wild pollinators monitoring, (2) to conduct trial monitoring of wild pollinators on chosen locations, (3) evaluate wild pollinators community structure based on results, (4) explain it and (5) form recommendations for long lasting monitoring of wild pollinators in Slovenia.   Research project will focus on monitoring of wild bees, as the most important wild pollinators. In development of monitoring we focus on trap sampling. Our own research and research abroad shows that monitoring with traps is the only way to collect data objectively with reasonable work investment. Beside this we will run a pilot study to found out potential use of environmental DNA on spider webs as a way to monitor wild pollinators. At the end we will make recommendations to establish continual monitoring of wild pollinators in Slovenia.   Proposed research project will be divided into 5 working packages:   In WP1 we will design methodology of monitoring and model of monitoring of wild bees. We plan to use five different traps (white, blue and yellow pan trap and blue and yellow vane trap) and try to increase their effectiveness.   In WP2 we will do trial monitoring of wild pollinators on chosen areas. In each year of this three-year project we plan to conduct trial monitoring on areas with intensive farming, on areas where steps of nature conservation already exist and in urban areas. Together we plan to put up 50 sampling sites with 5 traps that will be hold out 10 to 12 times per year (depends on trap type). Altogether we will put up 250 traps and accumulate 2.800 samples yearly. All caught individuals will be mounted and identified.   In WP3 we will estimate status of wild bees populations. We will compare conditions of wild bee populations among areas, that differ in land use and nature conservation steps. Later we will propose steps for conservation and even toward improving conditions for wild pollinators.   In WP4 we will run out pilot trial for monitoring wild pollinators with environmental DNA. We will develop bee specific primers that replicate different lengths of typical marker for DNA
Significance for science
The proposed project is upgrade of studies of wild pollinators importance for farming (2016-2018). It will contribute necessary knowledge about changes in wild pollinators populations. This is crucial for Slovenia and also Europe. Project will also importantly contribute to efforts of Slovenia to become a model for sustainable management of pollinator diversity for reliable food production and preservation of biodiversity.   Improving knowledge represents a cornerstone of EU Pollinators Initiative (2018). It therefore calls for research of status and trends of pollinators, tackling and consequences (impacts on nature, human wellbeing and the economy). Fundamental research (systematics, taxonomy) as well as applied research are needed to enhance the EU's monitoring and assessment capacity in relation to pollinators.   Project will contribute valuable knowledge for the development of a cost-effective and standardised monitoring methodology. Results will also fill the knowledge gap not only on status and trends of wild bees but also their biology and phenology. Good quality data from monitoring will make it possible to assess endangered pollinator species and develop robust pollinator indicators. All this is necessary for the sustainable management of populations of wild pollinators.   The successful pilot project of the use of spider web eDNA for wild bee monitoring will establish a first working platform for eDNA from spider webs as a cheap and fast complementary tool for biodiversity monitoring. We expect our results to highlight a reduction in the labour intensiveness and costs associated with conventional monitoring, but not only in monitoring of bees but in general. Our results can inspire a plethora of studies in related fields, and can lead to an advance in the monitoring of biodiversity in general, and specifically of e.g. agricultural pests, invasive species and airborne pathogens.
Significance for the country
Agriculture   Pollination is key ecosystem service and absolutely vital in fruit and vegetable production. The knowledge obtained with this project will contribute to better management of populations of pollinators and thus improve the reliability of pollinations even in challenging conditions like rainy weather in time of flowering. That will improve competitiveness and income status of producers too.   Nature conservation   Pollination is key ecosystem service which maintains the ecosystem diversity. The biodiversity of ecosystems can only be provided by diverse communities of pollinators, and monitoring is a crucial for the effective protection of pollinators. The project will thus make an important contribution to conserve the diversity of pollinators and biodiversity in general in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2019, 2020
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2019, 2020
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