An image of a drone showing the spread of wildflowers. Credit: Karen Anderson

Satellites and drones can provide key information to protect pollinators, researchers say.

Their study explores new ways to use these technologies to track the presence of colors and says it can be combined with behavior research to see the world through the eyes of insects.

The flowers available to insects vary from day to day and from place to place, and human activities changes the landscape in a way that affects all pollinators.

The University of Exeter Research Group, supported by the South Devon Outstanding Natural Beauty Area (AONB), hopes their approach will help us understand these changes, leading to better conservation.

“Recent advances in drones and satellite technology created new opportunities, ”said lead author Dunja Gonzalez of Center for Animal Behavior Research at the University of Exeter.

“Drones can now give us subtle details of the landscape – on the scale of individual colors – and combining it with satellite imagerywe can learn about food available for pollinators in a large area.

“Together with research on insect behavior, it will help us understand the threats they face and how to design conservation programs.

“With some types of pollinators in a dwindling environment, including many wild bees, we urgently need this understanding to protect not only pollinators in general, but also the great diversity of species, each of which plays a vital role in complex ecosystems ”.

Pollinators provide a number of benefits (called ecosystem services), especially for humans by pollination food crops.

However, much about their behavior and habitat – as well as the impact of climate and human-induced habitat change – remains unknown.

“So far, most satellite research has focused on large-scale agricultural landscapes such as rapeseedcorn and almond farms, ”Gonzalez said.

“We emphasize the need to study landscapes with complex communities of plants and pollinators.

“They vary from place to place, and sharing satellites and drones is a good way to learn about these local differences.

“For example, the South Devonian AONB contains many smaller fields, microenvironments and traditional Devon hedges, so effective conservation here may be different from measures working elsewhere.”

Gonzalez’s work is funded by the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (BBSRC) Research Council.

A document published in the journal Frontiers in ecology and evolutionis entitled: “Remote sensing of plant resources for pollinators – new horizons from satellites to drones.”

The article is part of a special issue entitled “What Sensory Ecology Can Learn in Landscape Ecology” edited by Brazilian researchers.

Growing beans in various agricultural landscapes promotes the development of bees and increases yields

Additional information:
Remote sensing of flower resources for pollinators – new horizons from satellites to drones, Frontiers in ecology and evolution (2022). DOI: 10.3389 / fevo.2022.869751

Citation: Satellites and drones can help save pollinators (2022, May 20), obtained May 20, 2022 from

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