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Keywords:

  • biodiversity;
  • brown-field;
  • flower-visiting;
  • habitat;
  • pollinator;
  • restored

Abstract

Pollinators are declining in Europe due to intensification of agriculture, habitat loss and fragmentation. Restored landfill sites are a significant potential reserve of semi-natural habitat, so their conservation value for supporting populations of pollinating insects was here examined by assessing whether the plant and pollinator assemblages of restored landfill sites are comparable to reference sites of existing wildlife value. Floral characteristics of the vegetation and the species richness and abundance of flower-visiting insect assemblages were compared between nine pairs of restored landfill sites and reference sites in the East Midlands of the United Kingdom, using standardized methods over two field seasons. No differences were found between the restored landfill and reference sites in terms of species richness or abundance of plants in flower and both types of site had similar assemblages of pollinators. However, plant and insect assemblages differed across the season, with species richness and abundance being lower for the restored landfill sites in the spring and higher in the autumn compared to the reference sites. The results indicate that in this region, landfill sites are being restored to a state comparable to that of the reference sites with regards to their provision of floral resources and the associated insect pollinator assemblages. Since there are currently 2,200 working landfill sites in England and Wales, covering 28,000 ha, and closing at a rate of 100 per year, this is potentially a significant reserve of land that could be restored.