[Syrphidae] Re: reference request - impacts of pesticides on hover flies

Wed Sep 11 20:39:38 BST 2013

Dear Thad,

It is true that in the pollination service debate the role of species other than honey bees and wild bee species is severely understudied. There are some studies that specifically deal with the role of hover flies in pollination efficiency, but so far I haven't seen any papers studying the effects of neo-nicotinoids on syrphid diversity, abundance or pollination efficiency.

A few papers indirectly related to this (decline or trends in pollinators including syrphids),
Bates, A. J., J. P. Sadler, A. J. Fairbrass, S. J. Falk, J. D. Hale, and T. J. Matthews. 2011. Changing Bee and Hoverfly Pollinator Assemblages along an Urban-Rural Gradient. PLoS ONE 6:e23459.
Jauker, F., B. Bondarenko, H. C. Becker, and I. Steffan-Dewenter. 2012. Pollination efficiency of wild bees and hoverflies provided to oilseed rape. Agricultural and Forest Entomology 14:81-87.

Biesmeijer, J. C., S. P. M. Roberts, M. Reemer, R. Ohlemüller, M. Edwards, T. Peeters, A. P. Schaffers, S. G. Potts, R. Kleukers, C. D. Thomas, J. Settele, and W. E. Kunin. 2006. Parallel declines in pollinators and insect-pollinated plants in Britain and the Netherlands. Science 313:351-354.

See also for a recent "update" of that last study
Carvalheiro, L. G., W. E. Kunin, P. Keil, J. Aguirre-Gutiérrez, W. N. Ellis, R. Fox, Q. Groom, S. Hennekens, W. Van Landuyt, D. Maes, F. Van de Meutter, D. Michez, P. Rasmont, B. Ode, S. G. Potts, M. Reemer, S. P. M. Roberts, J. Schaminée, M. F. WallisDeVries, and J. C. Biesmeijer. 2013. Species richness declines and biotic homogenisation have slowed down for NW-European pollinators and plants. Ecology Letters 16:870-878.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ele.12121/abstract (open access)

Personally, I think the effect of neo-nicotinoids on hover flies is less severe than on insects relying very strongly on orientation in the landscape, such as bees. All species rely for their survival or reproduction on finding their way back to a nest. Even in solitary species, females need to find the way to each "nest" in order to gather enough food for the eggs to develop into larvae and pupate.
the biochemical action of neo-nicotinoids is specifically aimed at disruption of the transmission of neural signals. Even at very low levels, this leads to disorientation in bees. Although doses to which these bees (and other insects) are themselves exposed may not be lethal, they lead to disorientation, resulting in much less individuals returning with food to the nests, and a disruption of specific behavioral symptomes, such as the cleaning behaviour of social bees in the nest, leading to fungal infestations, parasite growth and so on.

In hover flies, however, this is less important. They don't actively store food, but solely depend on nectar and pollen for their own activity, and do not rely on excellent landscape orientation for survival (at least that's my hunch). But maybe that's only true for eurytopic and migrant species.

However, a recent study performed in the Netherlands on aquatic invertebrates showed detrimental effects of neo-nicotinoids on species diversity and abundance, among which also Diptera
 the paper is open access.

I hope this was useful.


Joachim Mergeay
Head of Genetic Diversity
Research Institute for Nature and Forest
Gaverstraat 4, 9500 Geraardsbergen, Belgium

Van: syrphidae-bounces at lists.nottingham.ac.uk [syrphidae-bounces at lists.nottingham.ac.uk] namens Murdoch, Thad [tjmurdoch at gov.bm]
Verzonden: woensdag 11 september 2013 21:04
Aan: syrphidae at lists.nottingham.ac.uk
Onderwerp: [Syrphidae] reference request - impacts of pesticides on hover flies

Many apologies for the naïve question, but could the members of the list please point me to key references regarding the impacts of neonicotinoids and other pesticides on hover flies?

I am a coral reef research scientist in Bermuda, but also a fan of hover flies. We are debating the impacts of pesticides on our pollinator populations here at the moment, and hover flies are a neglected component of the discussion. (I also fear that marine arthropods are being impacted, but there is minimal basic data on most species, let alone ecotox analysis.)

I have limited journal access, so pdf would be great too.

Best regards - Thad

Thaddeus J. T. Murdoch, PhD
Chief Scientist
BREAM: Bermuda Reef Ecosystem Analysis and Monitoring Programme
Bermuda Zoological Society PO Box 415, Flatts, FL-BX, BERMUDA
Tel: 441.505.8424

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