Wild bee pollinators have been shown highly effective in terms of improving agricultural yield quality and quantity of cash crops. In many parts of the world, pollination services are threatened by land use changes involving degradation of semi-natural habitats. Such disturbances often lead to decreased pollinator abundances or diversity, and increase risks to humans through reduced agricultural yields.
This project, first of its kind in West-Africa, aims to monitor bee communities and their ecosystem service provision through e.g. the pollination of cash crops. The project will build on reference collections of West-African bee pollinators from 2015 in the south-sudanian savannas of Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Until now, this collection comprises 124 bee species and more than 40,000 specimens. The current project will expand the data collection in diverse habitat types, such as the transition zone of savanna and rain forest in Lamto, Ivory Coast.
The collection efforts of the project constitutes a solid scientific basis for further studies on pollination and will allow the integration of pollinator data into new management strategies of natural habitats and agricultural areas in West-Africa. Furthermore, the collection will serve as a valuable tool for environmental education and student training.
Technicians and students were trained to sort, pin and identify bee species, as the first part of the project. The training was also given to facilitate the conservation pg bees contained in the reference collection. All specimens from Burkina Faso have been pinned, while the specimens from the Ivory Coast are under way. The available occurrence data on Burkina Faso has been completed and ready to be publihsed on the GBIF France IPT Cote d'Ivoire. All data have been registered according to the Darwin model. To date, the project has registered a data hosting institution "Station d'Ecologie de Lamto".
Project members joined two workshops in Cape Town, South Africa, to increase their knowledge on biodiversity informatics and data mobilization.
As a result of the project, assistants and students have been trained in bee capture, sorting, pinning, and on collection management. The bee samples that has been captured, identified and digitized since 2013 to date have been published through GBIF. A collection of bee species is carefully preserved in a new entomology laboratory that is located at the Bingerville Scientific Center on the Ivory Coast. The laboratory was set up to allow the conservation of bee's reference collection even after the end of the project.