Interdisciplinary Studies on The Uptake of New Approaches to Crop Pollination
With research predicting ongoing change in the global environment and resultant fluctuations in pollinator communities and diversity, it has become essential to focus on studying alternate and native pollinators. One such pollinator group is the stingless bees, which have a pan-tropical population, with a few species in the subtropics and temperate regions. To understand their potential as managed pollinators it is essential to understand their natural habitat requirements and essential parameters for their survival. The first step towards establishing their natural habitat is to conduct pollinator surveys and correlate their abundance and diversity with vegetation and climate parameters. Benefits from wild pollinators may not be substantial, hence it is required to study farms and their suitability to host pollinators as well as the pollination services provided. Understanding the effect of farm management practices and availability of managed pollination providers would establish the pathways for the uptake of managed pollination of stingless bees. Understanding the barriers to adopting pollination using stingless bees in various regions, and correlating them with independent variables such as knowledge, awareness and interest would help in plugging the knowledge gap around uptake of alternate pollinators.
The chapters of the proposed thesis will provide answers to questions which are yet to be solved regarding adoption of managed pollination, influence of native vegetation on crop pollination and existing knowledge among growers and beekeepers regarding managed pollination in India and Australia. The expected outcomes from the proposed research are as follows: 1) Current understanding of managed pollinators among growers and beekeepers in Australia and India. 2) Influence of native vegetation surrounding farms and their role in attracting pollinators during flowering period, lastly, 3) Returns of investing in managed or hand pollination of a crop in a protected cropping system. These outcomes will be crucial in developing stingless bees as managed pollinators on farms in Australia and India.
Professor James Cook, Dr Aila Khan, A/Prof Dilupa Nakandala, Dr Neil Perry