I just find a 2009 paper I missed. How many of those will be out there? I did a commentary (Bartomeus & Winfree 2011) last year on how to track bee movements along different habitats. I did a quite intense literature research and I still missed this very relevant paper (Brosi et al 2009). Sorry, I have no excuses for not citing the paper on the commentary, and despite is true that I don’t usually read that Journal, I like a lot the first author work, so here my little amend:
I would like to have highlighted the paper in my commentary because despite the promising ideas it contains, no advance has been made in this direction in the subsequent years. Maybe other researchers missed that paper too? The paper propose using stable isotopes to track habitat use by pollinators. Despite the known correlation between habitat structure and pollinator diversity and abundance, little is known on which habitats use different pollinator species and specially in which proportions. This knowledge is important to understand the effect of land use change on pollinator persistence, but can be used for answering multiple questions ranging from ecosystem services to pollinator population dynamics. The main limitation faced by researchers so far is the inherent difficulty to track individual specimens movements.
The goal of the paper is to utilize the naturally occurring differences in isotopic composition among habitats to characterize habitat-based bee foraging changes within a landscape context. In this case they characterize the use of agricultural or forested areas. The researchers found a significant relationships between the carbon and nitrogen isotope signals on bees depending on the season, the landscape context and the local biotic context. Though they could not estimate proportions of different habitat uses due to high variances in the stable isotopes signal, they claim that this important step can be achieved in other systems. If so, the ability to calculate isotope mixing models (which estimate the proportion of different habitats use) would be useful for most investigations of pollinator foraging in the context of ecosystem services.
Bartomeus I., Winfree, R. (2011) The Circe Principle: Are Pollinators Waylaid by Attractive Habitats? Current Biology 21(17): 653-655
Brosi, B.J., Daily, G.C., Chamberlain, C.P. & Mills, M. (2009). Detecting changes in habitat-scale bee foraging in a tropical fragmented landscape using stable isotopes, Forest Ecology and Management, 258 (9) 1855. DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2009.02.027