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Landscape elements as potential barriers and corridors for bees, wasps and parasitoids

Krewenka, Kristin M., Holzschuh, Andrea, Tscharntke, Teja, Dormann, Carsten F.
Biological conservation 2011 v.144 no.6 pp. 1816-1825
Bombus, foraging, grasses, grasslands, habitat conservation, habitat fragmentation, habitats, landscapes, nests, parasitoids, solitary bees, species diversity, Germany
Habitat loss and fragmentation in agricultural landscapes lead to severe declines of abundance and richness of many insect species in the remaining isolated semi-natural habitats. We analysed possible barrier effects of large hedges and corridor effects of narrow grass strips that were hypothesized to affect foraging and dispersal of hymenopterans. We selected calcareous grasslands in the vicinity of Göttingen (Germany), which harbour high Hymenoptera diversity and are starting points for foraging and dispersal in the landscape. We installed pan traps to sample bees (i) on the grasslands; (ii) on grassland edges behind adjacent hedges (potential barriers) and without hedges; (iii) on grass strips in 100m distance to the grassland, which were connected or unconnected to the grassland; and (iv) unconnected (isolated) grass strips in 300m and 750m distance to test for corridor and isolation effects on abundance and species richness of foraging wild bees. Additionally we provided trap nests for bees, wasps and their parasitoids on the grasslands and the strips. Species abundance and richness declined with increasing isolation from grasslands for foraging solitary bees, trap-nesting bees, wasps and parasitoids, but not for foraging bumblebees. Hedges did not confine movement of foraging bees. We found no mitigating effects of (100m) corridor strips on any of the observed groups. We conclude that conservation of semi-natural habitats as sources of bee and wasp diversity is important and that grass strips act as sinks rather than corridors when high quality patches are nearby.