Research Articles

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Cultivating a new relationship between farmland and urban development that supports a sustainable regional food network and community -Ananas New Community- Phillipines

Ananas represents a bold approach to urban development that celebrates the agricultural, social, and ecological heritage of the Philippines. This new vision cultivates—within the context of an evolving urban district—an ecosystem that actively supports a more sustainable regional food network. By preserving the local region’s role and identity as Manila’s Food Basket, and drawing from the essential elements of Filipino culture, Ananas represents a wholly new paradigm of urban living.
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Pollinators in Planning and Construction A brief guide for the development sector

Scotland: The development and planning sectors The Pollinator Strategy for Scotland 2017 –2027 addresses pollinator decline and sets out a 10-year plan to help pollinating insects thrive. Support is needed from development and planning sectors to build a more resilient and nature-rich environment and to ensure that the critical services of pollination are available for future generations. As the protection and enhancement of nature becomes more recognised in National Planning Policy, and people demand developments that improve their environment, it is time to fit pollinators into the design and construction process. If you work in this sector, you have the opportunity to create
high quality developments that benefit your business and are more compatible with nature.
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All Ireland Pollinator Plan 2021-2025

This is why the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan is such a significant publication: not only does it detail the 186 science-based actions we need to take to reverse pollinator decline, it translates them in a range of clear and creative ways that enable all sectors of society – schools, communities, farmers, businesses, gardeners, local authorities, etc. – to get involved in pollinator conservation. In the five years since the first All-IrelandPollinator Plan was published, thousands of people across this island have gotten their hands dirty to make space for nature in their schools, communities, businesses, gardens, public spaces,
and on their farms.
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The Little Things that Run the City Insect ecology, biodiversity and conservation in the City of Melbourne

What were the project’s key research questions? We applied the approach described above to formulate the following research questions: 1. Which are the key insect groups living in theCity of Melbourne? 2. Which are the most frequently occurring insect species in the City of Melbourne? 3. How is the insect biodiversity of the City of Melbourne distributed amongst its public greenspaces? 4. How is the insect biodiversity of the City of Melbourne distributed amongst the different habitat types in these green spaces? 5. What are the most frequent ecological interactions between plants and insects in the City of Melbourne? 6. What are the ecological functions performed by insects in the City of Melbourne? 7. What are the ecosystem services delivered by the City of Melbourne’s insect biodiversity that benefit people?
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Biodiversity monitoring program in Melbourne

EAGA’s multi-award winning Biodiversity Monitoring in Melbourne’s East pioneered the development and trial of a new framework for monitoring indicators of biodiversity health in the context of a changing climate. The City of Boroondara lead the project on behalf of EAGA members and project partners including, Melbourne University, the Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE), ClimateWatch and Birdlife Australia. The framework includes a discussion paper and implementation guide for monitoring indicators of biodiversity health including: The extent of native vegetation, Changes in vegetation communities, Bird communities, Phenology (changes in the timing of natural events such as nesting, flowering, seed setting etc). The project has created networking and capacity building opportunities for council officers as well as partnerships with university researchers, BirdLife Australia and EarthWatch Australia’s ClimateWatch program. The project outputs can be accessed via the below links:
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Urbanisation, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities: A Global Assessment.

This book Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities and the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook project (CBO) addresses that gap admirably. It brings out clearly the importance of nature for cities, making a convincing case for internalizing ecosystem services in urban policy making. Includes Local Assessment of Melbourne:The Biodiversity and Social-Ecological Dynamics of Melbourne, Australia
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The seven lamps of planning for biodiversity in the city

Cities tend to be built in areas of high biodiversity, and the accelerating pace of urbanization threatens the persistence of many species and ecological communities globally. However, urban environments also offer unique prospects for biological conservation, with multiple benefits for humans and other species. We present seven ecological principles to conserve and increase the biodiversity of cities, using metaphors to bridge the gap between the languages of built-environment and conservation professionals.
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Cities are hotspots for threatened species

Although urbanization impacts many species, there is little information on the patterns of occurrences of threatened species in urban relative to non-urban areas. By assessing the extent of the distribution of threatened species across all Australian cities, we aim to investigate the currently under-utilized opportunity that cities present for national biodiversity conservation.
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Conserving herbivorous and predatory insects in urban green spaces

Insects are key components of urban ecological networks and are greatly impacted by anthropogenic activities. Yet, few studies have examined how insect functional groups respond to changes to urban vegetation associated with different management actions. We investigated the response of herbivorous and predatory heteropteran bugs to differences in vegetation structure and diversity in golf courses, gardens and parks. We assessed how the species richness of these groups varied amongst green space types, and the effect of vegetation volume and plant diversity on trophic- and species-specific occupancy. The challenge for managers is to boost green space conservation value through actions promoting synergistic combinations of vegetation structure and diversity. Tackling this conservation challenge could provide enormous benefits for other elements of urban ecological networks and people that live in cities. Urbanisation has caused, and is forecasted to increasingly
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Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees

With their abundant floral resources, urban community gardens have the potential to play an important role in pollinator conservation. At the same time, the gardens themselves are dependent upon the pollination services provided by insects.
Thus, understanding the variables that can increase bee richness or abundance in community gardens can contribute to both urban agriculture and pollinator conservation. Here we examine the impact of several environmental variables on bee abundance and diversity in urban community gardens in Sydney, Australia.
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Connecting fragmented pieces of habitat can help endangered species recover

Loss of habitat drives most extinctions. When farms or roads carve forests or fields into fragments, the isolated survivors are more likely to be wiped out. Now, a new study suggests connecting these patches with corridors of suitable habitat can help save populations and species—far more than scientists ever thought. To study the effect of habitat corridors, the scientists created new fragments of savanna inside a large pine plantation in South Carolina and connected some of them with habitat corridors. Every year, the team tallied the number of native plant species.
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Urban Refuge: How Cities Can Help Rebuild Declining Bee Populations

With bees threatened by habitat loss, pesticides, and climate change, researchers are finding that planting flower patches in urban gardens and green spaces can help restore these essential pollinators. The results are already being seen in cities from Chicago to London to Melbourne.
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Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts

To consider the state of knowledge about the global status of insects, the Entomological Society of America hosted a symposium at their Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, in November 2019. The Society was motivated to do so by the many inquiries about the validity of claims of rapid insect decline that had been received in the months preceding the annual meeting and by the many discussions taking place among members. The entomological community was in need of a thorough review and the annual meeting provided a timely opportunity for sharing information.
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‘Jewel of nature’: scientists fight to save a glittering green bee after the summer fires July 10, 2020 6.01am AEST

The green carpenter bee (Xylocopa aerata) is an iconic, beautiful native species described as a “jewel of nature” for its metallic green and gold colouring. Last summer’s catastrophic bushfires significantly increased the risk of local extinctions of this magnificent species. We have studied the green carpenter bee for decades and after the 2007 fires on Kangaroo Island, the remaining population was bolstered by providing nesting materials. Find out more…

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Powerful Pollinators- Encouraging insect pollinators in farm landscapes. NSW central slopes, Murray-Riverina and North East Victoria. Excellent guide for rural communities produced by Wheen Bee Foundation and Sustainable Farms.

Excellent guide for rural communities produced by Wheen Bee Foundation and Sustainable Farms.
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World Bee Day 2020 We-BEE-Nar with Dr Andrew Barron

This was a fascinating insight into how having the right data can guide steps to take to ensure healthy bees, presented by someone who has ultimate knowledge about how bees think and behave.
Dr Andrew Barron is a neuroethologist studying the neural mechanisms of natural animal behaviour. He is conducting research to improve honey bee health and welfare including how bees and bee colonies are impacted by pesticide and disease stressors, and how we might best intervene to help colonies under stress.
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One, then some: how to count like a bee

If you were a honeybee, how would you choose where to find flowers? Imagine your first flight out of the hive searching for food. What would you do if you saw flower patches with one flower, or three, or twelve, or twenty?
Our new study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, tested honeybees on exactly this question. We wanted to understand how honeybees choose where to forage in environments like greenhouses where our food is pollinated, in local parks, or in our own backyards. Specifically, our research looked at whether honeybees with no specific numerical training could choose a flower patch based on the quantity of flowers it had.
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Why bees are finally getting a break

‘One of the biggest environmental impacts of the global shutdown has been the significant reduction in air pollution. According to a 2016 study, pollutants break down scent molecules emitted by plants making it harder for bees to detect food. This means they have to fly further to find food and bring it back to their nests. Less fumes from cars on the road makes it easier for bees and pollinators to forage.’
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Australian Urban Wildlife App: Beneficial Insects

Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Urban Wildlife app lets you help to monitor and conserve native wildlife in Australian cities. You can record sightings of beneficial insects, including bees, butterflies, beetles, bugs and other important insect groups. The data you record about plant-insects interactions will help us to better understand how we can manage beneficial insects so that their populations can persist and co-exist with humans.
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5 vital roles insects play in the ecosystem

Every buzzing, crawling, and hovering insect is a cog in an ecological machine. Tiny, individual efforts add up to colossal benefits for life on Earth
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Statement from Australia's Natural History Museum Directors (Feb 2020)

Impact of fires on biodiversity on a scale not seen since species records were first kept. Loss is in the ‘trillions’ of animals due to climate change crisis.
The Directors/CEOs of Australia’s leading natural history museums today issued a joint statement in support of increased funding and co-ordinated national action to address the impacts of climate change on the nation’s biodiversity following the bushfires which ravaged the continent over the past few months.
The Directors of the Australian Museum (NSW); Museums Victoria; South Australian Museum; Western Australian Museum; Queensland Museum; and Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory; whose natural science collections hold almost 60 million reference specimens said:
Natural history museums are among the most trusted public institutions* playing a critical role in describing and conserving our natural history in Australia and connecting the natural environment with the public through education outreach and exhibitions.
We now recognise human-induced climate change, alongside land clearing and habitat use, as the over-arching issue affecting Australia’s unique wildlife as evidenced by more intense bushfires, drought, floods and the impact of warming oceans on the Great Barrier Reef and other marine environments.
Our museums hold invaluable reference collections for the nation – we are the ‘ark’ of information on Australian species with collections that date back as early as the 1850s.
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Rewilding cities will improve public health

In a new paper, published in Frontiers in Microbiology, researchers from the University of Adelaide found that humans in urban populations are in dire need of more natural habitat. A natural habitat to discuss chronic disease rates.
This could be achieved through restoring urban microbial biodiversity through rewilding.
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Australia's Biosecurity Future-preparing for futurre biiological challenges

The report — Australia’s Biosecurity Future: preparing for future biological challenges — uses strategic foresight to identify the major biosecurity trends and risks Australia may need to respond to in the next 20-30 years.
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Alternative pollinators to help farmers as bee populations suffer in drought and bushfires (Feb 2020)

Early assessment has indicated that more than 10,000 honey bee hives have been destroyed across the Australian mainland, each containing over 45,000 bees.There have also been concerns about the unique Ligurian subspecies of honey bee, found on Kangaroo Island, as 800 hives and 115 nucleus hives have been lost. Researchers are looking at native stingless bees as an alternative to repopulate the hives.
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We need to talk about the impact the bushfires are having on insects (Jan 21 2020)

It’s estimated that over one billion animals have been killed or injured during the bushfires, including at least 20 threatened species that are now closer than ever to extinction. But entomologists such as David Yeates will struggle to fully estimate the impact of the fires on insects. David’s thorough knowledge of Australian insects gathered over the past 30 years, however, leads him to believe that the recent bushfires may have caused irreversible damage to Australia’s insect populations, due to the intensity and extensiveness of the fires, which he says will make recovery difficult.
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Fates of humans and insects intertwined, warn scientists

The warning has been issued by 25 experts from around the world, who acknowledge that little is known about most of the estimated 5.5 million insect species. However, enough was understood to warrant immediate action, they said, because waiting for better data would risk irreversible damage.
The researchers said solutions were available and must be implemented immediately. These range from bigger nature reserves and a crackdown on harmful pesticides to individual action such as not mowing the lawn and leaving dead wood in gardens. They also said invertebrates must no longer be neglected by conservation efforts, which tend to focus on mammals and birds.
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Why Gentle Honeybee Hives Are Less Resilient

Bees that tend not to sting show a molecular profile associated with infection and stress, even though they are healthy.
Studies have shown that low-aggression hives have higher mortality rates than high-aggression ones. Scientists across many disciplines are trying to figure out why honeybee colonies are dying at historically high rates.
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IPBES Science and Policy for People and Nature. Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production

“The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever,” said Sir Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) that compiled the forthcoming 1,500 page report. “We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide.”
Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services aims to assess animal pollination as a regulating ecosystem service underpinning food production in the context of its contribution to nature’s gifts to people and supporting a good quality of life. To achieve this, it focuses on the role of native and managed pollinators, the status and trends of pollinators and pollinator-plant networks and pollination, drivers of change, impacts on human well-being, food production in response to pollination declines and deficits and the effectiveness of responses. The assessment concludes that 75% of our food crops and nearly 90% of wild flowering plants depend at least to some extent on animal pollination and that a high diversity of wild pollinators is critical to pollination even when managed bees are present in high numbers.
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'Extinct' broad-headed bee found in Perth's northern suburbs

A native bee species known as Douglas’ broad-headed bee has been rediscovered in Perth’s northern suburbs. It had been presumed extinct, with the last known record of the species being a male collected on Rottnest Island 80 years ago.
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We can now speak the universal language of honey bees Researchers have deciphered and codified the honey bee language.

“This research found that a bee from England would understand a bee from Virginia and would find a food source in the same way with a similar success rate.

“The bees can tell us in high spatial and temporal resolution where forage is available and at what times of the year. So, if you want to build a mall for example, we would know if prime pollinator habitat would be destroyed. And, where bees forage, other species forage as well. Conservation efforts can follow.”

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Agroecology: A Systems Approach How scientists propose that we feed the future… and solve a host of other problems at the same time.

In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) held a conference in Rome to discuss agroecology and came to the conclusion that it holds enormous potential not only to mitigate many of the world’s environmental and socio-economic issues, but to take us on a more sustainable development path more generally.
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Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood

Green space can provide mental health
benefits and possibly lower risk of psychiatric disorders. This
nation-wide study covering >900,000 people shows that children who grew up with the lowest levels of green space had
up to 55% higher risk of developing a psychiatric disorder independent from effects of other known risk factors. Stronger
association between cumulated green space and risk during
childhood constitutes evidence that prolonged presence of
green space is important. Our findings affirm that integrating
natural environments into urban planning is a promising approach to improve mental health and reduce the rising global
burden of psychiatric disorders.
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The Rapid Decline Of The Natural World Is A Crisis Even Bigger Than Climate Change

“We are at a crossroads. The historic and current degradation and destruction of nature undermine human well-being for current and countless future generations,” added the British-born atmospheric scientist Sir Robert Watson who has led programs at NASA and was a science adviser in the Clinton administration. “Land degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change are three different faces of the same central challenge: the increasingly dangerous impact of our choices on the health of our natural environment.”
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Where have all the farmland birds gone? 21/03 2018

The song of skylarks, linnets and meadow pipits traditionally resonate across French farmlands. But for how much longer? Studies from long-term observatories paint an alarming picture: the populations of farmland birds have fallen by one third in the last 17 years.
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Neonicotinoids: risks to bees confirmed 28/02/2018

Most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides represent a risk to wild bees and honeybees, according to assessments published today by EFSA. The Authority has updated its risk assessments of three neonicotinoids – clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam – that are currently subject to restrictions in the EU because of the threat they pose to bees. 28th February 2018
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Scientist warn of 'ecological Armageddon' after study shows flying insect numbers plummet 75% over 27 years. October 18, 2017

More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas in Germany has alarmed scientists, conservationists and Government.
Global declines in insects have sparked wide interest among scientists, politicians, and the general public. Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardise ecosystem services.
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Bees Have Profound Influence on Plant Evolution, Researchers Say

After only nine generations, the same plant species is larger and more fragrant if pollinated by bumblebees rather than flies, according to University of Zurich evolutionary biologists Florian Schiestl and Daniel Gervasi. Mar 14, 2017.
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Bees can help boost food security of 2 billion small farmers at no cost - UN

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today highlighted the publication of a new study that quantifies, for the first time, how much crop yields depend on the work of bees that unknowingly fertilize plants as they move from flower to flower.19 Feb 2016
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Microbial Ecology of the Hive & Pollination Landscapes

Exploration of the effect of different flowers microbes on bee gut bacteria and evolution of the species. [17 Dec 2013]
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Spinning Food

Our new report, “Spinning food,” investigates how Big Food and agrochemical corporations are deliberately misleading the public — and reporters — on facts about industrial agriculture and organic and sustainable food production.
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Securing Bee Populations in Australia from climate change and varroa mites

A plan to map bee activity and protect South Australian pollination rates has been given a $600,000 boost. September 2015
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Neonicotinoid pesticides

Neonicotinoid pesticides have been found to be particularly toxic to bees and other pollinators in a comprehensive study published June 2014 of over 1,00 peer reviewed scientific studies.
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