Pollination services

Since 2004, the ‘plant animal interactions’ research group in Trinity College Dublin has been researching the drivers and consequences of pollinator decline in Ireland. This group is led by Dr Jane Stout.


Irish bees

A number of studies on Irish bees have taken place in

  • Publication of distributional records of Irish bees (1980-2006).  Ronayne, C. & O’Connor, J.P. 2003 Distributional records of some Aculeata (Hymenoptera) collected in Ireland from 1980-2002. Bulletin Irish biogeographical Society 27: 227-254; Ronayne, C. & O’Connor, J.P. 2006 Further distributional records of Irish Aculeata (Hymenoptera), and a species list for Ireland.  Bulletin Irish biogeographical Society 30: 28-91
  • Distribution and abundance of bumble bees in Dublin City (2002). Urban areas may provide a refuge for bumble bee populations, but little is known about the biology of bumble bees in such areas. In 2002, Dr Mark Brown assessed the distribution and abundance of bumble bees at 17 sites in 6 land-use types in Dublin City. Dublin was found to have an abundant, but species-poor (8 species) bumble bee assemblage, with many previously recorded bumble bee species being absent from the 2002 survey. Bumble bee abundance was more closely related to the presence of food resources (flowering plants) than to land-use types per se. One group of bumble bees, the parasitic cuckoo-bees, was completely absent from the 2002 survey.  Brown, M.J.F., 2002.  Unpublished report to the Heritage Council, Ireland.
  • The conservation of bees in Ireland – a whole island approach (2003-2006). This research was undertaken by Dr Úna FitzPatrick and Dr Mark Brown in Trinity College Dublin and by Tomás Murray and Dr Rob Paxton in Queen’s University Belfast.  It was funded by the Higher Education Authority under their North-South Programme for Collaborative Research.
  • The distribution and ecology of the mountain bumblebee, Bombus monticola (2006). Bombus monticola (Smith) was first discovered in Ireland in 1974. It is generally confined to mountains and moorlands, and is currently known only from Counties Wicklow, Dublin, Carlow and Antrim.  In 2006, Dr Jane Stout in Trinity College Dublin carried out research on its distribution, foraging ecology and population phenology (life cycle through the year) in the Republic of Ireland (funded by the Heritage Council).
  • Biodiversity in pastoral landscapes (2004-2005). Veronica Santorum in the University of Limerick examined the factors supporting and limiting bumblebees on Irish farmland.   Santorum, V., Breen, J., 2005. Bumblebee diversity on Irish farmland. Tearmann: Irish Journal of Agri-environmental Research 4, 79-90.
  • Conservation genetics of the conservation priority species Colletes floralis (2010). Emily Davis in Queen’s University Belfast used genetic techniques to study the population structure of Colletes floralis in Ireland.  The majority of remaining world populations of this bee are in Ireland.  The large Irish populations were found to be currently heatlhy but isolated from gene flow.  They need to be specifically protected on each site, as if they are lost they would be unlikely to return. Davis E.S., Murray T.E., Fitzpatrick Ú., Brown M.J.F. & Paxton R.J. (2010) Landscape effects on extremely fragmented populations of a rare solitary bee, Colletes floralis.  Molecular Ecology 19: 4922-4935.
  • Barcoding Irish Bees (2007-2010). This SFI-funded project is creating a DNA barcode database for Ireland’s solitary bees. Dr Karl Magnacca & Dr Jim Carolan in Trinity College Dublin sequenced the COI barcode region, which will be published and submitted to BOLD (the barcoding consortium) so that it can be used for rapid identification of solitary bees.
  • Evaluation of countryside management for sustainable pollination services (ongoing). Lorraine McKendrick is a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast investigating pollination service provision in Armagh apple orchards under funding from DARD (2009-2012). In addition to determining pollination service provision by various insect pollinators, Lorraine’s research also aims te evaluate the benefits of current agri-environment schemes to enhance important pollinator populations.
  • The distribution of bumblebees in Counties Sligo and Leitrim. Dr Don Cotton has been actively recoding the distribution of bumblebees in Counties Sligo and Leitrim since the 1990’s.


Other pollinators


Dr Martin Speight has carried out extensive work on Irish syrphids. Irish Wildlife Manual No. 36: Speight, M. C. D. (2008) Database of Irish Syrphidae (Diptera).  He has also established ‘Syrph the Net’, a powerful database that enables the use of Syrphidae in a range of environmental interpretation activities in most parts of the Atlantic zone of Europe.