News September 2023

SPRING Flanders: the quest for the best monitoring method for wild pollinators

Since April 2022, INBO joined as a member of the consortium that carries out the SPRING pilot project. SPRING is short for for Strengthening Pollinator Recovery through INdicators and monitorinG. The European Commission desired a reality check of the monitoring methods from the European Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (EUPoMS) and initiated the SPRING project for that purpose. At present, these monitoring protocols are employed in 27 European countries, including Flanders.

In Flanders, we selected three research sites:

  • The agricultural trial fields site of the Research Institute for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (ILVO) in Gontrode
  • the city nature reserve Bourgoyen-Ossemeersen in Ghent
  • the nature reserve Den Dotter in Haaltert

These sites are situated between Ghent and Brussels and on a gradient from predominantly agriculture to nature. At each site, butterflies, wild bees and hoverflies have been monitored monthly during one day via transects and with pan traps since May 2023. This provides data for the European network to validate monitoring protocols on a European level. Next to these SPRING protocols sensu stricto, the Flemish SPRING team also added 4 extra protocols in order to validate the former ones.

While wild bees and hoverflies are searched for on sight with the SPRING transect protocol, the alternative transect protocol entails the collection of these pollinators by sweeping the vegetation without visual search. In this way, species that might hide in the vegetation end up in the samples. Besides UV-reflectant pan traps that are placed at vegetation level according to the standard SPRING protocol, we also installed identical sets at soil surface level, as well as sets of pan traps that are not UV-reflectant. Finally, we also varied the collection time of the pan trap sampling protocol. In addition to the servicing of the traps after the standard 6 hours (cfr. SPRING protocol) we left them operational for longer periods (up to 9 days) and retrieved yields at regular intervals at certain sites. With these additional protocols we hope to gain and share information useful for the optimization of pollinator monitoring in Europe.

Ultimately, the SPRING project should enable everyone to determine and monitor the status of this important insect group in an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective way. We expect the first results in the autumn.

Marc Pollet, Kevin Maebe, Filip Berlengée, Dimitri Brosens, Sander De Beer, Merlijn Jocqué, Tanja Milotic, Axel Neukermans, Lien Reyserhove, Kurt Schamp, Nuria Simoens, Kristine Vander Mijnsbrugge, Frank Van de Meutter,  Jan Vanden Houten, Kato Vanhaverbeke en Luc Vanhercke

Image above: pan trap (photo INBO)


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