College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka (2017)
Pollinator Monitoring Project in Tanzania
Pollination is a critical plant-animal interaction that maintains ecosystem health and function, facilitates plant reproduction, and improves crop production and human welfare. In Tanzania, a majority of cash and food crops rely on insect pollination. Of these insects, bees are the most important pollinator. There is increasing global concern regarding the decline of the pollinator population caused by land use intensification, climate change, and poor pollinator management. However, lack of empirical data on pollinator population status limits the potential for appropriate actions to halt their decline and impedes identification of links between population declines and potential drivers of such changes. In Tanzania, the situation is exacerbated by a combination of high pollinator diversity with lack of taxonomic expertise and financial resources. This project will help to address this gap by developing a baseline understanding of the status and trends of bee pollinators and their interactions with plant communities for Tanzania.
Key Objectives and Activities
- Strengthen capacity of Tanzanians in Biodiversity informatics, plant-bee interactions, DNA-based and morphological identification techniques, and collection management.
- Development and implementation of a standardized monitoring program for bee collection. Initial sampling efforts will concentrate in the Arusha Region of Tanzania, with plans to expand countrywide in later phases.
- Share project data openly via a Mweka-based database, as well as via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) and the Tanzanian Biodiversity Information Management Tool (BIMT). Data sets will include lists of bee species (with photographs) and abundance, and lists of plant-bee interactions. Both will be updated as new data become available.
- Disseminate results in the scientific community through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
- Raise awareness on the importance of pollinators to the general public through various media, including newsletters, television, radio programs, and social media.
- Over 70 people, including the entire project team and visiting scientists from Tanzania, trained in
- Biodiversity informatics, plant-bee interactions, DNA-based and morphological identification techniques, and collection management.
- A standardized monitoring program that includes multiple sampling sites along elevation (climatic) and land use gradients in each of the three different habitats—natural habitat (control), small farms (mixed farming), and large-scale farms (monoculture farming).
- Sampling at monitoring sites occurring once per month, and resulting in a collection of approximately 12,000 individuals corresponding to ~250 species of bees during the project period.
- Use collected data to test and demonstrate links between elevation (climate change) and land use intensity (a major factor for loss of biodiversity) with variation in bee pollinator population characteristics over space and time.
- One masters-level Tanzanian graduate student from one of the partner institutions will pursue a degree in Biodiversity Informatics, and one PhD-level Tanzanian graduate student will pursue a degree in plant-bee interactions in Germany.
Collection of baseline data on this understudied system will contribute valuable information and knowledge about bees including their identification, roles in conservation, distributions, and diversity in Tanzania. The team predicts that this will allow for the development of more sophisticated analyses of bees foraging specialization, seasonal trends in bee species abundance and composition, and their response to climate and land use changes. This will allow for more informed conservation and management decisions. Additionally, through outreach and scientific publications, the team hopes to educate people on the importance of pollination and the requirements for healthy pollinator communities.
Last Updated: October 31st, 2017
Project Director Biography
Henry Njovu received his Bachelor Degree in Wildlife Management from the Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania in 2004. He holds a Master Degree in Applied Ecology from Hedmark University College, Norway. Currently, he is finalizing his Ph.D. in Biology and studies at the University of Wurzburg, Germany. He has worked for over 12 years in wildlife sector and is currently employed at the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka as an Assistant Lecturer. His areas of specialty include macroecology and plant-animal interactions. Mr. Njovu is a Principal Investigator in three ongoing projects supported by JRS Foundation, Tanzania Forest Fund, and Safari Club International.
Notes from JRS
JRS is making investments in pollinator biodiversity data and information systems in Diptera and Lepidoptera in East Africa and this grant helps to meet its goal by beginning to build human networks and biodiversity data in Hymenoptera. The project team developed a compelling proposal and imaginatively and confidently reached out to foreign collaborators for assistance. JRS believes that investments in capacity development require funders to risk investing in groups that may not have the capacity to succeed at the time of the award. A challenge for the team will be to learn the database and informatics technology at the same time as the taxonomy. Additionally, JRS hopes that the Project will catalyze a network of scientists and institution interested in pollinator biodiversity that can be a hub for future work.