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Aberdeen research creates a buzz among 'citizen scientists' - University of Aberdeen

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have enlisted the help of thousands of bumblebee enthusiasts from across the UK to help inform the latest research into the best pollinating plants to have in garden.

More than 6,000 data entries gathered through BeeWatch, a UK-wide citizen scientist programme, will now inform compilers of bumblebee-specific lists of plants and flowers, helping them prepare more specific pollinator plant recommendations.

Set up by the University of Aberdeen and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2011, BeeWatch is an online platform where members of the public can log and document their bumblebee sightings, along with which flowers and plants they were spotted visiting.

Widespread concern over declines in pollinating insects has led to numerous recommendations of which “pollinator-friendly” plants to grow and help turn urban environments into valuable habitat for such important wildlife.

Dr Helen Anderson, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, was part of a team of researchers from the Royal Horticultural Society, Open University and the Swedish University of Agriculture. Their paper - Citizen science data reveals the need for keeping garden plant recommendations up-to-date to help pollinators - has just been published in Nature Scientific Reports. “We all know that pollinators like bumblebees are in trouble and need our help – it is a global problem,” she said. “More than 6,000 records have been submitted to the BeeWatch Planting for Pollinators site since it was first set up, and we used this data to determine food plant use by the nations’ bumblebee species, and show that much of the plant use recorded does not reflect practitioner recommendations.”

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