A Guernsey collaboration between the Pollinator Project and the University of Bristol has secured circa £1 million from the UK to study Channel Island pollinators.
Dr Miranda Bane (pictured), who grew up on Guernsey, will be leading the work in Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and Sark to take a detailed evaluation and comparison of pollinator populations across the islands.
The research programme is the first of its kind, with a unique opportunity to study the real-time implications of pesticide reduction, in a real-world setting at island scale. The programme will showcase the Channel Islands for the first time as a world leader in this research area.
Miranda said: “I have always been inspired by the beautiful nature on our island. To be able to bring research expertise on pollinators back to the islands, to help protect and enhance our natural environment, has been my goal since choosing an academic career. It has taken almost 4 years, a lot of hard work and the invaluable support of so many people to secure this research grant. I am so grateful for all the support and so excited to be working on my dream project.”
Professor Jane Memmott from the University of Bristol is head of the UK research team who will regularly visit the islands. Professor Memmott said: “Islands can be viewed as microcosms of the world, large enough to be realistic, but small enough to be tractable for study. And I’m really excited to be working with a team on the Channel Islands for the next four years on pollinators and pesticides.”
The funding enables four years of research on pollinating insects across four Channel Islands: Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark. The programme is a long-term look at beneficial insect populations including bees, butterflies, wasps, flies, beetles and moths. It aims to answer pertinent research questions about the impacts of pesticides on pollinators, with the aim of supporting pollinator conservation in the future. The findings will help put the Channel Islands on the global research map, supporting further research and guiding policy locally and beyond to ultimately protect our vital pollinators.
There are also on-island career opportunities including a full-time research technician to join the programme in early 2024 who will analyse data patterns with species and multi-island comparisons. Additional annual research internships, a PhD position, and multiple Master’s degree study opportunities will be advertised here.
With the States of Guernsey’s 2022 restriction of the sale of glyphosate products and the Pollinator Project’s Pesticide Free Guernsey campaign, the project will provide evidence of the impact of reducing pesticides has on pollinator populations.
Teams of citizen scientists led by Miranda have been collecting baseline data on the islands since 2019. The funding will allow the full fieldwork programme to be undertaken; pollinator DNA analysis and testing for the presence of pesticides in pollinators in a world-class Canadian laboratory.
The programme will leave a legacy of a CI pollinator DNA library and a reference collection of hundreds of species to help to inform best practice conservation to help recover our local pollinator populations.
The Pollinator Project will also work with local schools and community groups highlighting the importance of this program.
The funding is provided by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in the UK.