Research questions

Bumble bee on Cosmos Bumble bee on Cosmos
Butterfly on mint Butterfly on mint
Bristol team sampling a car park Bristol team sampling a car park
Leeds team sampling a park Leeds team sampling a park

2. Where are the hotspots of pollinator biodiversity in urban areas?

In the second stage of the project we quantified insect pollinators and their interactions with flowering plants in four urban areas: Bristol, Reading, Leeds and Edinburgh. In 2012 and 2013 we sampled urban habitats including parks, gardens, allotments, churchyards and cemeteries, road verges, car parks and pavements.

Most previous studies of pollinators in urban environments have focused on a single urban habitat such as gardens (Smith et al. 2006a, 2006b; Matteson et al. 2008, Matteson & Langellotto 2009, 2010), cemeteries and churchyards (Bates et al. 2011) or allotments (Ahrne et al. 2009). In this project we simultaneously sampled a range of urban habitats to enable us to compare the value of different types of urban habitats for insect pollinators and identify habitat ‘oases’ for pollinators in urban areas.

As for stage 1 of the project, we are using the data to construct quantitative plant-pollinator food webs in order to compare plant-pollinator communities between the different urban habitats.

In each city we sampled 90 different locations, which included 100 gardens per city. We are extremely grateful to all garden-owners, allotment organisations, landowners, companies and councils that have allowed us to access their land.

The findings of this study were published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution in January 2019.

We have also produced a lay summary of the paper.

The reference for the paper is: Baldock, Goddard, Hicks, Kunin, Mitschunas, Morse, Osgathorpe, Potts, Robertson, Scott, Staniczenko, Stone, Vaughan & Memmott (2019) A systems approach reveals urban pollinator hotspots and conservation opportunities. Nature Ecology and Evolution 

We are very grateful to all landowners, local councils and garden owners who granted access to sample on their land in 2012 & 2013.


Ahrné, K. et al. 2009. Bumble bees (Bombus spp) along a gradient of increasing urbanization. PLoS ONE 4: e5574.

Bates, A. J.  et al. 2011. Changing bee and hoverfly pollinator assemblages along an urban-rural gradient. PLoS ONE 6: e23459.

Matteson, K.C. et al. 2008. Bee richness and abundance in New York City urban gardens. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 101:140-150.

Matteson, K. C. & Langellotto, G. A. 2009. Bumble bee abundance in New York City community gardens: implications for urban agriculture. Cities and the Environment 2 (1): article 5, 12 pp.

Matteson, K. C. & Langellotto, G. A. 2010. Determinates of inner city butterfly and bee species richness. Urban Ecosystems 13: 333-347.

Smith R.M., et al. 2006a. Urban domestic gardens (VI): environmental correlates of invertebrate species richness. Biodiversity and Conservation 15:1572–9710

Smith R.M., et al. 2006b. Urban domestic gardens (VIII): environmental correlates of invertebrate abundance. Biodiversity and Conservation 15: 2515-2545.