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DEveloping Landscape Ecotoxicology in Terrestrial Ecosystems (DELETE)

Pesticide Exposure and Effects on Bees

With an increasing use of pesticides in agriculture, there is a need for reliable and cost-effective tools to assess effects on beneficial non-target organisms. Since the prevailing ecotoxicological paradigm to assess risk does not accurately reflect consequences for populations in natural environments, novel and more realistic methods to inform environmental risk assessment of chemicals needs to be developed. In DELETE, we use a landscape ecotoxicological approach to develop tools for risk assessment by a combination of well-designed landscape ecological field studies with state-of-the-art population modelling. As a model system, we use pollinating bumble bees on two continents. Methods are refined to use pollen and nectar collected by bees to quantify pesticide exposure. By developing a spatially explicit individual-based model, impacts are scaled from individuals to populations. We evaluate if created flower strips can mitigate pesticide effects by helping bees to recover after pesticide exposure. This research provides new insights on how bee populations are influenced by the combined impacts of food availability and pesticide exposure and further our understanding in the little explored area of population risks of pesticide exposure in terrestrial ecosystems. 

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