Given the pressures that pollinators face on agricultural land, cities could play an important role in conserving pollinators, according to a new study.
The research, involving scientists at the University of Leeds, has revealed that urban gardens and allotments are good for pollinators, and lavender and borage are important garden plants that pollinators use as food sources.
The study, published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, has assessed all major urban land uses for pollinators. While there have been a few small-scale studies on pollinators in some urban land uses, this is the first-time scientists have considered cities in their entirety.
The research found that residential gardens and allotments (community gardens) are particularly good for pollinators, with lavender, borage, dandelions, thistles, brambles and buttercups important plant species for pollinators in these urban areas.
The team, led by the University of Bristol, also designed a new measure of management success, based on community robustness, that considers the stability of whole communities of pollinators, and not just individual species.
Robustness is a measure of how a community responds to species loss; robust communities can survive the disappearance of some species but species loss in fragile communities leads to a domino effect of other extinctions.