Exposure of native bees foraging in an agricultural landscape to current-use pesticides

Product Type: 

Journal Article

Year: 

2016

Author(s): 

Hladik, M.L., Vandever, M.W., and Smalling, K.L.

Suggested Citation: 

Hladik, M.L., Vandever, M.W., and Smalling, K.L. 2016. Exposure of native bees to current-use pesticides. Science of the Total Environment - part A. 542: 469-477. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.10.077

The awareness of insects as pollinators and indicators of environmental quality has grown in recent years, partially in response to declines in honey bee (Apis mellifera) populations. While most pesticide research has focused on honey bees, there has been less work on native bee populations. To determine the exposure of native bees to pesticides, bees were collected from an existing research area in northeastern Colorado from two land cover types: grasslands (2013-2014) and wheat fields (2014). Traps were deployed bi-monthly during the summer at each land cover type and all bees, regardless of species, were composited as whole samples and analyzed for 136 current-use pesticides and degradates. This reconnaissance approach provides a sampling of all species and represents overall pesticide exposure (internal and external). Nineteen pesticides and degradates were detected in 54 composite samples collected. Compounds detected in >10% of the samples included the insecticides thiamethoxam (46%), bifenthrin (28%), clothianidin (24%), chlorpyrifos (17%), and imidacloprid (13%), the fungicides azoxystrobin (17%), and pyraclostrobin (11%), and the herbicide atrazine (19%). Concentrations ranged from 1.1 to 312 ng/g for individual pesticides. Pesticides were detected in samples collected from both grasslands and wheat fields; the location of the sample and the surrounding land cover at the 1000 m buffer influenced the pesticides detected but because of a small number of temporally comparable samples, correlations between pesticide concentration and land cover were not significant. The results show native bees collected in both grasslands and wheat fields are exposed to multiple pesticides, these results can direct future research on routes/timing of pesticide exposure and the design of future conservation efforts for pollinators.

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