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Distribution and abundance of bee forage flora across an agricultural landscape - railway embankments vs. road verges

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In this study, we evaluated if railway embankments and road verges create refuge habitats for bee flora across agricultural landscape. The survey was conducted in 2009–2012, in the Lublin Province, SE Poland. Data on the bee forage flora were obtained while making floristic charts along 60 transect plots × 300 m, with a total length of 18000 m, for each type of linear structure. Forage bee flora was compared with respect to species richness, diversity, and evenness indices. The canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) was used to characterize relationship between species composition and environmental variables. The bee forage species richness and abundance were significantly greater on railway embankments than on road verges. The composition of species varied considerably; the number of bee forage species common to both habitats was only approximately 38% in entire data set. Most good-value bee forage species were recorded along the embankments of railways with an intermediate traffic volume. Bee forage species diversity benefits from the location of habitat elements (forests or meadows), primarily if the distance is <50 m. The lack of dense patches of valuable bee forage species in the road verges was related to the high density of non-nectariferous graminoids. Our results demonstrate how the value of man-made areas in an agricultural ecosystem can vary with respect to floral resources across the landscape, suggesting that it is inappropriate to generalize about agricultural systems as a whole without first addressing differences among habitats.
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Article 3509 [14p.], fig.,ref.
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  • Department of Botany, University of Life Sciences in Lublin, Akademicka 15, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
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