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Brian Murphy

Florence Hecq

Research profile

Effects of scale and landscape structure on pollinator and the provision of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes

Supervisors: Dr. Jane Stout and Dr. David Bourke

Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide, with complex consequences for ecosystem functioning and services. Pollination is an essential ecosystem service in agricultural landscapes, with the majority of this service provided by a diverse fauna of wild species. Spatial heterogeneity affects ecological systems and responses, including animal movement, population persistence, species interactions and ecosystem function. These ecological responses are dependent on scale as species interact with environmental variation at different scales. However, little is known about the optimum scale of management for the majority of pollinating insects in managed landscapes.
The aim of this research is therefore to investigate the effect of scale and landscape context on pollinator diversity and provision of pollination services. Using a multi-scale hierarchical sampling design, the effect of land use and landscape complexity at multiple spatial scales (field, landscape and regional) on pollinator diversity and pollination services will be assessed. Pollination efficiency will be characterized for model plant species using indicators such as fruit and seed set, visitation rates, and pollen deposition. The structure of agricultural landscapes  will be characterised using remotely sensed data and habitat survey, combined with GIS based landscape metrics (e.g. habitat/land-use proportion, patch size, shape, isolation) providing an overall measure of landscape complexity. Knowledge of these relationships is crucial for a better understanding of pollinator diversity patterns and should be helpful for future conservation management decisions.

This project is funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC).

Contact details.
Botany Building, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2. Tel: +353-1-896 2208. Email :

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Last updated 8 November 2017