Experimental investigations into the main risks of insect populations (InsectExpo)


Project description

The project „Experimental investigations into the main risks of insect populations (InsectExpo)” evaluates pesticide exposure of insects in the agricultural landscape. So far exposure pathways in the terrestrial environment are not characterised in detail. A recent evaluation of the risk assessment of flower visiting insects showed a high complexity including overspray and drift in the neighbouring habitats and contamination of flower elements such as nectar and pollen, as well as plant leaves, water and soil. All these matrices are exposed to pesticides in a different way and represent resources or compartments for development of flower visiting insects. With distance to the cropping area exposure is reduced, however there are hardly and measurements of real pesticide exposure, occurring as mixtures of multiple components, available. InsectExpo will describe pesticide composition in various matrices over a cropping season in a comparably narrow range.


All samples will be taken in the field, at the field edge and 20 m from the field edge in the neighbouring habitat in three different crops. The measuring will take place monthly, beginning before the start of the pesticide treatment in February, until the last pesticide treatment in October. The samples will be analysed using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) and Gas Chromatography (GC) for more than 100 of the most common pesticides applied in Germany.

Additionally, experiments to measure realistic decomposition kinetics after pesticide applications will be performed. We also plan to include effect assessments after exposure to realistic mixtures using the red mason Osmia bicornis as a model organism. Nesting aids will be used to obtain pollen for measuring pesticide loads and endpoints of larval developments will be evaluated.


The dataset will provide for the first time information about realistic pesticide exposure of insects during the year in the agricultural landscape.

The research project is funded by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz, BfN) within the Action Programme for Insect Conservation  of the German government.