Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain


Recently much alarm has been raised over the fate of insects, with high profile news reports highlighting impending extinctions and ’insectageddon’. By working together to examine past changes in insect diversity, the Biological Records Centre and the recording schemes and societies are in a unique position to contribute to this discussion. This was emphasised by a recent study examining trends in the status of pollinating insects in Britain, led by members of the Biological Records Centre, the Hoverfly Recording Scheme and the Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society.

The study used cutting-edge statistical methods to analyse over 700,000 records of 353 wild bee and hoverfly species, revealing that a third of species had declined compared to a tenth that had increased between 1980 and 2013. Furthermore, the study found that on average the geographic range of bee and hoverfly species had declined by a quarter. Interestingly, the study found that species restricted to upland/northern habitats showed notable declines, potentially due to an increased vulnerability to climate change impacts. The results are of particular interest given the essential role that pollinators play in the pollination of crops and wild flowers. However, further study is needed to gain a better understanding of the drivers of change in the pollinators of Britain, watch this space…

Thank you to the committee and members of BWARS (the UK Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society) and the UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme for access to their data, and to the vast number of volunteers who contribute species’ records to these two recording schemes.

Link to the paper: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-08974-9  

Link to the CEH news story: https://www.ceh.ac.uk/press/widespread-losses-pollinating-insects-britain


This article was published in the BRC Newsletter September 2019

Epistrophe grosulariae pictured on Field Scabious
Image source
Martin Harvey