Investigating plant–pollinator relationships in the Aegean: the approaches of the project POL-AEGIS (The pollinators of the Aegean archipelago: diversity and threats)

publication date: Apr 1, 2013
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Journal of Apicultural Research
Vol. 52 (2) pp.106-117
DOI
10.3896/IBRA.1.52.2.20
Date
April 2013
Article Title

Investigating plant–pollinator relationships in the Aegean: the approaches of the project POL-AEGIS (The pollinators of the Aegean archipelago: diversity and threats)

Author(s)

Theodora Petanidou, Gunilla Ståhls, Ante Vujić, Jens M Olesen, Santos Rojo, Andreas Thrasyvoulou, Stefanos Sgardelis, Athanasios S Kallimanis, Stella Kokkini and Thomas Tscheulin

Abstract

Worldwide, there is a well-documented crisis for bees and other pollinators which represent a fundamental biotic capital for wild life conservation, ecosystem function, and crop production. Among all pollinators of the world, bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea) constitute the major group in species number and importance, followed by hover flies (Diptera: Syrphidae). The Aegean constitutes one of the world’s hotspots for wild bee and other pollinator diversity including flies (mainly hover flies and bee flies), beetles, and butterflies. Despite this advantage, our present knowledge on Greek pollinators is poor, due to a lack of focused and systematic research, absence of relevant taxonomic keys, and a general lack of taxonomic experts in the country. As a result, assessments of pollinator loss cannot be carried out and the causes for the potential pollinator loss in the country remain unknown. Consequently, the desperately needed National Red Data list for pollinators cannot be compiled. This new research (2012–2015) aims to contribute to the knowledge of the pollinator diversity in Greece, the threats pollinators face, as well as the impacts these threats may have on pollination services. The research is conducted in the Aegean archipelago on >20 islands and several mainland sites in Greece and Turkey. Prime goals are: i. the assessment of bee and hover fly diversity (species, genetic); ii. their pollination services; and iii. the effects of climate change, grazing, intensive bee-keeping, fires, electromagnetic radiation on bee diversity and ecology, as well as on plant–pollinator networks. At the same time, this research contributes to the taxonomic capital in Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean, focusing on the creation of the first identification keys for pollinators, the training of new scientists, as well as the enrichment and further development of the Melissotheque of the Aegean, a permanent reference collection of insect pollinators established at the University of the Aegean.

Keywords

 wild bees, hover flies, ecological and genetic diversity, pollination networks, pollination services, fires, grazing, honey bee competition, climate change, Aegean islands, Merodon

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