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Data from: Pollinator Monitoring More than Pays for Itself

Cite this dataset

Breeze, Tom (2020). Data from: Pollinator Monitoring More than Pays for Itself [Dataset]. Dryad.


Resilient pollination services depend on sufficient abundance of pollinating insects over time. Currently, however, most knowledge about the status and trends of pollinators is based on changes in pollinator species richness and distribution only.

Systematic, long-term monitoring of pollinators is urgently needed to provide baseline information on their status, to identify the drivers of declines and to inform suitable response measures.

We evaluated the full economic costs of implementing four potential national monitoring schemes in the United Kingdom, based on power analyses that estimated sample sizes required to detect a 30% national scale change in pollinator populations over 10 years: 1) professional pollinator monitoring, 2) professional pollination service monitoring, 3) volunteer collected pan-traps and 4) volunteer focal floral observations. These costs were compared to: i) the costs of implementing separate, expert-designed, research and monitoring networks and ii) the economic benefits of pollination services threatened by pollinator loss.

Estimated scheme costs ranged from £6,159/year for a 75 site volunteer focal flower observation scheme to £2.7M/year for an 800 site professional pollination service monitoring network. The estimated research costs saved by using the site network as research infrastructure range from £1.46-17M/year. The economic value of UK crop yield lost following a 30% decline in pollinators was estimated at ~£188M/year.

Synthesis and applications. We evaluated the full costs of running pollinator monitoring schemes against the economic benefits to research and society they provide.  The annual costs of monitoring are ≤0.02%  of the estimated annual loss to UK crop production from a 30% decline in crop pollination services. Furthermore, by providing high quality scientific data, monitoring schemes would save at least £1.5 on data collection per £1 spent. Our findings demonstrate that long-term systematic monitoring can be a cost-effective tool for both addressing key research questions and setting action points for policy-makers. Careful consideration must be given to scheme design, the logistics of national-scale implementation and resulting data quality when selecting the most appropriate combination of surveyors, methods and site networks to deliver a successful scheme. 


The data are split into 4 annexes, which correspond to their annexes in the paper itself, which is open access. The methodologies are included below each description, copied from the paper itself, minus citations. Please note that raw salaray data from UKCEH and the University of Reading cannot be shared for confidentiality reasons and the raw expert survey responses cannot be shared due to the stipulations of the ethical approval at the time of the survey dissemination. Annex 6 contains summaries of these responses. 

1. Annex 1 - Scheme Construction

This contains the data used to construct the schemes in terms of methods and volunteer/professional involvement.

"Four hypothetical national scale monitoring schemes were developed, based on combinations of participants (whether data were collected and/or identified by volunteers or professionals, non-experts or experts), methods (how pollinators or crop pollination were sampled and samples processed) and metrics (what data were generated e.g. species abundance) with a focus on wild bees and hoverflies as key insect pollinator groups. Each ‘Recorder–Sampling Method–Metric’ combination was given a score based on feasibility and the degree of training required. This exercise considered 15 different methods, related research and using expert opinion across the partnership of authors to reach consensus (by simple majority agreement, following group discussion) on the assigned scores."

2. Annex 3 - Cost Data

This contains the raw cost data used to evaluate the costs of different monitoirng schemes. Raw personelle data cannot be shared as they are confidential to UKCEH and the University of Reading Instead an average of the two organizations is used and presented in the annex and study. This average is used insetad of either organizations costs throughout the paper.

"Costs estimated for each scheme covered: i) staff salaries to undertake field work, identify specimens and administer the scheme; ii) material costs for field equipment, specimen storage, travelling to and from sampling sites and postage of specimens to be identified; iii) training staff/volunteers and iv) maintaining digital records and publicly available data. These costs were based on the observed costs of a recent pollinator monitoring pilot study and implementation of the existing UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme."

3. Annex 6 - Expert Opinion survey response summary

This contains a summery of the responses to the expert opinion survey conducted to determine the costs of research networks that could overlap with the proposed monitoring scheme. The raw expert responses cannot be shared due to a clause in the expert concent form at the time of submission that states "Data collected in this survey will be retained for 5 years and securely stored only by the survey team. This data will only be used as part of the National Pollinator and Pollination Service Monitoring Scheme pilot survey and any projects that directly arise from it, including reports and publications."

"Thirty six experts were selected on the basis that they had either i) at least five publications on pollinator field research in northern or western Europe or ii) prior expertise in invertebrate population monitoring. Experts were divided into four groups based on their specific expertise, each of which was given a different selection of three research questions relevant to their expertise. Question 8 was posed to all four groups (Table 2). Twenty eight experts (78%) completed the questionnaire in full. To avoid biasing their answers, experts were not given any details of the proposed monitoring schemes or the power analysis.

For each research question, experts were asked to give their opinion on the minimum and ideal site network attributes (number, scale and variation of sites sampled, regularity of sampling and years of sampling) and detectable rate of change in metrics of pollinators and pollination service to crops (e.g. abundance of pollinators) required to answer each question. Experts were also asked to state their confidence in their answers to capture uncertainty. The questionnaire was refined through a short pilot with members of the authorship team who were not involved in the survey drafting, resulting in only minor language changes. "

4. Annex 8 - Crop Pollinator Dependence and Price Transformation

This contains the crop pollinator dependence ratio data used in the study. It is fully referenced.

"Dependence ratios represent a metric of crop yield loss in the absence of pollination services [...] Where available, dependence ratios were based on appropriate UK studies into pollination service benefits for particular crops, otherwise generalizations from global literature were used."