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. 2014 Feb 27;2:e269.
doi: 10.7717/peerj.269. eCollection 2014.

Landscape Fragmentation and Pollinator Movement Within Agricultural Environments: A Modelling Framework for Exploring Foraging and Movement Ecology

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Free PMC article

Landscape Fragmentation and Pollinator Movement Within Agricultural Environments: A Modelling Framework for Exploring Foraging and Movement Ecology

Sean A Rands. PeerJ. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Pollinator decline has been linked to landscape change, through both habitat fragmentation and the loss of habitat suitable for the pollinators to live within. One method for exploring why landscape change should affect pollinator populations is to combine individual-level behavioural ecological techniques with larger-scale landscape ecology. A modelling framework is described that uses spatially-explicit individual-based models to explore the effects of individual behavioural rules within a landscape. The technique described gives a simple method for exploring the effects of the removal of wild corridors, and the creation of wild set-aside fields: interventions that are common to many national agricultural policies. The effects of these manipulations on central-place nesting pollinators are varied, and depend upon the behavioural rules that the pollinators are using to move through the environment. The value of this modelling framework is discussed, and future directions for exploration are identified.

Keywords: Behavioural ecology; Behavioural rules; Bumblebee; Ecosystem services; Foraging distance; Honeybee; Movement ecology; Pollinator biology; Random walk; Simulation.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Illustration of how set-asides were added into the landscape.
The left hand panel shows a 101 × 101 cell landscape generated using 30 randomly placed field seeds, where white cells represent agricultural crops and black cells represent wild land or hedgerows. Set-aside fields are added by randomly selecting fields containing agricultural crops, and resetting the cells within the field as wild land. Moving from left to right, each successive panel has two additional agricultural fields redesignated as set-aside. Note that this is a simplified sketch: the results described consider a larger landscape and add more than two fields at each assay point.
Figure 2
Figure 2. Illustration of how hedgerows were removed from the landscape.
The left hand panel shows a 101 × 101 cell landscape generated using 30 randomly placed field seeds, where white cells represent agricultural crops and black cells represent wild land or hedgerows. Hedgerows are removed by randomly selecting adjacent fields, and removing the cells between them that were initially designated as hedgerows. Moving from left to right, each successive panel has four additional hedgerows removed.
Figure 3
Figure 3. Box plots showing trends for Model 1.
Box plots show the effects of changing the probability of moving forwards in a period (pF) on the median value of: (A) maximum distance travelled away from the nest in 1000 movements; (B) the number of times the forager changes habitat; and (C) the proportion of time the forager spends in the ‘wild’ habitat.
Figure 4
Figure 4. Box plots showing trends for Model 2.
Box plots show the effects of changing the probability of switching foraging habitat during a period (r) on the median value of: (A) maximum distance travelled away from the nest in 1000 movements; (B) the number of times the forager changes habitat; and (C) the proportion of time the forager spends in the ‘wild’ habitat.
Figure 5
Figure 5. Box plots showing trends for Models 3 (panels A–C) and 3a (panel D).
Box plots show the effects of changing the number of set-aside fields in the foraging environment on the median value of: (A) maximum distance travelled away from the nest in 1000 movements; (B) the number of times the forager changes habitat; (C) the proportion of time the forager spends in the ‘wild’ habitat; and (D) the maximum distance travelled away from the nest when the forager never crosses into the ‘non-wild’ habitat.
Figure 6
Figure 6. Box plots showing trends for Models 4 (panels A–C) and 4a (panel D).
Box plots show the effects of changing the number of hedgerows removed from the foraging environment on the median value of: (A) maximum distance travelled away from the nest in 1000 movements; (B) the number of times the forager changes habitat; (C) the proportion of time the forager spends in the ‘wild’ habitat; and (D) the maximum distance travelled away from the nest when the forager never crosses into the ‘non-wild’ habitat.

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This work was unfunded.

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