Non-target effects of agri-environmental schemes on solitary bees and fungi in the United Kingdom

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Katherine Lunn
  • Frøslev, Tobias Guldberg
  • Madeleine Rhodes
  • Leah Taylor
  • Hernani F. M. Oliveira
  • Catherine E. A. Gresty
  • Elizabeth L. Clare

Agri-environmental schemes (AES) are used to enhance pollinator diversity on agricultural farms within the UK. Though the impacts of these schemes on archetypal pollinator species such as the bumblebee (Bombus) and honeybee (Apis) are well-studied, the effects on non-target bee species like solitary bees, in the same environment, are generally lacking. One goal of AES is to alter floral provision and taxonomic composition of plant communities to provide better forage for pollinators, however, this may potentially impact other ecological communities such as fungal diversity associated with plant-bee communities. Fungi are integral in these bee communities as they can impact bee species both beneficially and detrimentally. We test the hypothesis that alteration of the environment through provision of novel plant communities has non-target effects on the fungi associated with solitary bee communities. We analyse fungal diversity and ecological networks formed between fungi and solitary bees present on 15 agricultural farms in the UK using samples from brood cells. The farms were allocated to two categories, low and high management, which differ in the number of agri-environmental measures implemented. Using internal transcribed spacer metabarcoding, we identified 456 fungal taxa that interact with solitary bees. Of these, 202 (approximately 44%) could be assigned to functional groups, the majority being pathotrophic and saprotrophic species. A large proportion was Ascosphaeraceae, a family of bee-specialist fungi. We considered the connectance, nestedness, modularity, nestedness overlap and decreasing fill, linkage density and fungal generality of the farms' bee-fungi ecological networks. We found no difference in the structure of bee-fungi ecological networks between low and high management farms, suggesting floral provision by AES has no significant impact on interactions between these two taxonomic groups. However, bee emergence was lower on the low management farms compared to high management, suggesting some limited non-target effects of AES. This study characterizes the fungal community associated with solitary bees and provides evidence that floral provision through AES does not impact fungal interactions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of Entomological Research
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Sep 2022

    Research areas

  • Agri-environmental schemes, ecological networks, fungi classification, non-target effects, solitary bees, IDENTIFICATION, POLLINATORS, COMMUNITIES, EXTRAPOLATION, CONSERVATION, BIODIVERSITY, ARCHITECTURE, PENICILLIUM, RAREFACTION, PRESSURES

ID: 319881031