Dr Nicholas Balfour and colleagues at Sussex University were recipients of funding from BBKA in 2018 for an unusual and interesting project on building an online data base of pollinator interactions.  This is intended to be open access when it becomes active (hopefully later in 2020) so that anyone can search it for any plant and any pollinator.  Lockdown has slowed up the completion of this work but the group have managed to prepare a paper for publication and there is a description of the work here.


The Database of Pollinator Interactions (DoPI)

The importance of flower-insect interactions in maintaining global biodiversity, ecosystem resilience and agricultural output is well established. However, significant concerns remain about pollinator and plant populations declines and shrinking distributions. For example, more than 40 British bee, wasp and butterfly species have become extinct in the last two centuries 1. While many potential causes have been identified, the long-term decline of flowers in our landscapes is considered a key factor2,3.

Despite the vital importance of pollinator -plant interactions, remarkably little is known about the flower preferences of many pollinator species, or which insects pollinate many flower species, and how these interactions change in space and time. To fill this gap we have created, to our knowledge, the world's first online, open access, pollinator-plant interaction database.

The Database of Pollinator Interactions (DoPI) documents British pollinator-plant associations. DoPI unites the disparate publications currently scattered throughout the scientific literature with unpublished reports and databases into a single online depository. DoPI was constructed by Drs Nick Balfour, Maria Clara Castellanos and Chris Johnson, and Profs Dave Goulson and Andrew Philippides of the University of Sussex, with financial support from the British Beekeepers Association and the Eva Crane Trust. We thank our funders and the researchers and organisations who have kindly contributed their data. We hope that DoPI will prove to be a useful tool and source of information for researchers and conservationists, and perhaps also farmers, horticulturalists, gardeners, and beekeepers.

The data comprises records of pollinator and plant interactions from the published scientific literature or submitted datasets. The taxonomy of British (native, naturalised and exotic) plant and pollinator species follows those of the National Biodiversity Network . Currently, users may search and filter the stored data via the online interface using five categories: (a) pollinators (groups, common names or taxonomic rank), (b) plants (groups, common names or taxonomic rank), (c) habitat type, (d) location, and (e) date (years, months and months in years). Initially, searches return a table summary. Further details (including date, location, source publication details etc.) can be viewed by selecting entries in the ‘Interaction’ column or downloaded as comma separated values (CSV) files. Data will continue to be added and we welcome any further contributions. Please report factual errors, dubious records, missing data, and web errors to [email protected].

The website will be hosted on the University of Sussex website. 

References

  1. Balfour, NJ, Ollerton, J, Castellanos, MC, Ratnieks, FLW, 2018. British phenological records indicate high diversity and extinction rates among late-summer-flying pollinators. Biological Conservation, 222, 278-283.

    2. Goulson D, Nicholls E, Botías C, Rotheray, EL 2015. Bee declines driven by combined stress from parasites, pesticides, and lack of flowers. Science, 347, 1255957.

    3. Ollerton J, Erenler H, Edwards M, Crockett R, 2014. Extinctions of aculeate pollinators in Britain and the role of large-scale agricultural changes. Science, 346, 1360-1362.