A. Martin

Bumbleebee (Bombus terrestris)

An integrated model for predicting bumblebee population success and pollination services in agro-ecosystems

Pollination is an ecosystem service which underpins agricultural production. There are serious concerns that populations of key pollinators, such as bees and other insects, are declining, which could lead to profound impacts on crop yields and on natural plant communities.

This project uses a combination of experiments and modelling to predict bumblebee nest density, distribution and survival in agricultural landscapes. The model describes bumblebee colony dynamics and foraging behaviour, taking into account as many negative environmental factors as possible, for example, levels of predation and parasitism in the nests (the extent to which the bees are victim to predators from their own or other species).

The model – which can also help researchers predict the distribution of pollination services provided by bumblebees – is validated with detailed survey and experimental data collected in the field.  The research’s aim is to provide a powerful tool for shaping recommendations so that land managers and policy makers can ensure sustainable pollination is able to thrive in tandem with successful arable farming.

The project is a collaboration between University of Exeter, University of Sussex and Rothamsted Research.

Principal researchers

This research project is a collaboration between Professor Juliet Osborne's Research Group at the University of Exeter and:

  • Professor Dave Goulson (University of Sussex)
  • Dr Alison Haughton (Rothamsted Research)

Grants and funding

This project is enabled by funding received from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Dr Matthias Becher and Dr Grace Twiston-Davies are the are the Postdoctoral Research Associates supporting this project at the ESI.


Find more information on our current suite of bee colony and foraging bee models.