Maurer, C., L. Bosco, E. Klaus, S. A. Cushman, R. Arlettaz & A. Jacot (2020)

Habitat amount mediates the effect of fragmentation on a pollinator’s reproductive performance, but not on its foraging behavior.

Further information

Oecologia 193: 523–534



Agricultural intensification, with its associated habitat loss and fragmentation, is among the most important drivers of the ongoing pollination crisis. In this quasi-experimental study, conducted in intensively managed vineyards in southwestern Switzerland, we tested the separate and interdependent effects of habitat amount and fragmentation on the foraging activity and reproductive performance of bumblebee Bombus t. terrestris colonies. Based on a factorial design, we selected a series of spatially replicated study sites across a dual gradient of habitat amount (area of ground-vegetated vineyards) and fragmentation (density of ground-vegetated vineyard fields) in a landscape predominantly consisting of vineyards with bare grounds. The foraging activity of individual bumblebees was measured using the radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, and we assessed final colony size to measure reproductive performance. We found an interactive effect of habitat amount and fragmentation on colony size. More specifically, the degree of fragmentation had a negative effect on bumblebee colony size when the amount of habitat was low, while it had a weak positive effect on colony size in landscapes with high amounts of habitat. At the level of individual vineyard fields, ground vegetation cover exerted a positive effect on bumblebee colony size. Fragmentation, but not habitat amount, significantly influenced foraging activity, with more foraging trips in sites with lower degrees of fragmentation. Our results emphasise the importance of studying the separate and interdependent effects of habitat amount and fragmentation to understand their influence on pollinators, providing guidance for optimising the spatial configuration of agricultural landscapes from a biodiversity viewpoint.
keywords: Bombus, connectivity, conservation, RFID, vineyards