Pollinering (en-GB)

NINA's pollination research group

We address knowledge needs to implement Norway’s National Pollinator Strategy, a strategy for viable populations of wild bees and other pollinating insects.

The importance of pollination

Most plants reproduce by seed fertilization through the transfer of pollen grains between flowers. Pollen can be transported by wind or water, but about 80% of all plant species are pollinated by animals. The interaction between flowering plants and pollinating insects are mutually beneficial: pollinators distribute plants’ genes, and plants provide the insects with food sources from flower nectar and pollen.

Pollination is an ecosystem service: – a vital function that maintains many wild plant communities and is key to the production of agricultural crops such as fruit and vegetables.

The dramatic loss of pollinators through factors such as land use change, pollution and climate change can lead to ecosystem degradation and reduced crop yields. There is an urgent need to improve our knowledge on pollinators and how to reverse their decline.  


Currently, we have the following areas of research

Flower Meds

The Norwegian National Pollinator Strategy calls for the establishment of new pollinator habitats, in addition to protecting existing habitats like hay meadows. In the FlowerMeds project, NINA focuses on the creation of flower meadows. Specifically, we want to know what is the best way to do this. These are not the ordinary "sow some seeds from your garden shop" flower meadows. We are creating flower meadows from a hyper-local seed source that aims to conserve both pollinators and the critically endangered hay meadows that the seeds come from. How is that for a win-win nature-based solution!

Contact: Megan Nowell.

Pollinatortiltak porsgrunn

Predicting floral visitation frequencies by wild bees and local pollination potential

Through MetaComNet (2020-2022) we aim to develop a modelling framework that can predict the structure of interaction networks and the sustenance of associated ecosystem functions. In this project we use a combination of simulated data, data from digital repositories, and data from our own ecological surveys. We will use ecological networks consisting of floral visitations by wild bees as a model system because bee-plant interactions can lead to pollination. We will conduct pollen limitation experiments to test if the predicted structure of bee-plant networks corresponds to the actual pollen limitation within plant communities. We will collaborate with researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark, Oslo University (UiO), The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). MetaComNet: Linking metacommunity dynamics to the structure of ecological networks and ecosystem functioning is financed by the Research Council Norway (Young Research Talents – FRIPRO).

Mapping habitats that support pollinator diversity

In this research line we assess how habitat management practices affect the quality of wild bee habitats and model the distribution of these habitats. We study commonly managed, restored and endangered habitats, and the extent to which they are a resource for wild bees and how their importance varies with habitat quality and its location in the landscape. This research supports decisions about where to allocate conservation efforts in the landscape by identifying where management practices will render most bee biodiversity conservation gains (POLLILAND).

Mapping landscape pollinator capacity

This research stream aims at mapping pollinator potential, capacity and use. One applied aim of this research is to provided recommendations on spatial stocking density of honey beehives in different landscapes

The interactions between honey bees and wild bees.

The city of Oslo has an active and dedicated bee keeping community at the same time that the area of the city and its surroundings is a hot-spot of wild bee diversity in Norway. We use field surveys, molecular techniques, citizen science to increase the knowledge and provide guidance about how wild bees and domestic bees can be managed to avoid negative impacts on native bees. The research places emphasis on co-production of research with beekeepers. Our research aims to support decisions about beehive stocking densities that enable the coexistence of honey bees and wild bees.

Local knowledge, cultural ecosystem services and plural values.

Flower meadows, wild bees and honey bees are used in the discourse as representations of urban biodiversity. Urban beekeeping is a recreational outdoor activity and an activity embodying local landscape knowledge and apicultural practices. As such it represents a mix of cultural ecosystem services with plural values/motivations. The research focuses on understanding the links between local knowledge of wild and domestic bees, attitudes and land use and beekeeping management actions. The research places emphasis on co-production of research with beekeepers. Read more about this on the pages of our URBAN SIS-project (in Norwegian).

The importance of pollinators for mountain plants.

Pollination of plants by wild pollinators is the fundamental mechanism by which a large majority of flowering plants can maintain genetic and trait diversity and reproduce successfully. In CLIMATE ECOTONES, we study the preference of bumblebees species for different mountain flowering plants, and their importance for the reproduction of a keystone species in the Norwegian mountains, bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) along climatic gradients.

The relationship between the landscape, pollination and yield.

We assess the condition of Norwegian ecosystems and their capacity to generate ecosystem services. Read more about the pollination services project.

Monitoring of bumblebees and butterflies

Bumblebees and butterflies play important roles in the ecosystem, and are also vulnerable for environmental changes. Thus, they can function as warning signs. Read more about NINAs monitoring of bumblebees and butterflies (in Norwegian).

Research group

Graciela M. Rusch (contact person)

  • David N. Barton
  • Joseph Chipperfield
  • Sondre Dahle
  • Jane Jepsen
  • Erik Stange
  • Markus Sydenham
  • Arnstein Staverløkk
  • Jens Åström
  • Sandra Åström
  • Megan Nowell
  • Marie Davey


Sydenham, M.A.K., Venter, Z.S., Eldegard, K., Torvanger, M.S., Nowell, M.S., Hansen, S., Øverland, J.I., Dupont, Y.L., Rasmussen, C., Skrindo, A.B., Rusch, G.M. 2023. The contribution of flower strips to wild bee conservation in agricultural landscapes can be predicted using pollinator habitat suitability models. Ecological solutions and evidence, 4.

Sydenham, M.A.K., Venter, Z.S., Moe, S.R., Eldegard, K., Kuhlmann, M., Reitan, T. and Rasmussen, C. 2022. Neutral processes related to regional bee commonness and dispersal distances are important predictors of plant-pollinator networks along gradients of climate and landscape conditions. Ecography.

Sydenham, M.A.K., Venter, Z.S., Eldegard, K., Moe, S.R., Steinert, M., Staverløkk, A., Dahle, S., Skoog, D.I.J., Hanevik, K.A., Skrindo, A. & Rusch, G.M. (2022) High resolution prediction maps of solitary bee diversity can guide conservation measures. Landscape and Urban Planning, 217, 104267

Sydenham, M.A.K., Venter, Z.S., Reitan, T., Rasmussen, C., Skrindo, A.B., Skoog, D.I.J., Hanevik, K.-A., Hegland, S.J., Dupont, Y.L., Nielsen, A., Chipperfield, J. & Rusch, G.M. (2022) MetaComNet: A random forest-based framework for making spatial predictions of plant–pollinator interactions. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 13, 500-513.

Sydenham, M. A. K., S. R. Moe, and K. Eldegard. 2020. When context matters: Spatial prediction models of environmental conditions can identify target areas for wild bee habitat management interventions. Landscape and Urban Planning 193:103673.

Sydenham, M. A. K., S. R. Moe, M. Steinert, and K. Eldegard. 2019. Univariate Community Assembly Analysis (UniCAA): Combining hierarchical models with null models to test the influence of spatially restricted dispersal, environmental filtering, and stochasticity on community assembly. Ecology and Evolution 9:1473-1488.

Fourcade, Y., Åström, S. and Öckinger, E. 2019. Climate and land-cover change alter bumblebee species richness and community composition in subalpine areas. Biodiversity and Conservation. 28:693-653.

Stange, E., G. Zulian, G. M. Rusch, D. N. Barton, and M. Nowel. 2018. Ecosystem services mapping for municipal policy: ESTIMAP and zoning for urban beekeeping. One Ecosystem 2:e14014.

Stange, E., D. N. Barton, and G. M. Rusch. 2018. A closer look at Norway’s natural capital—how enhancing urban pollination promotes cultural ecosystem services in Oslo. Pages 235-243 in

M. L. Paracchini, P. C. Zingari, and C. Blasi, editors. Reconnecting natural and cultural capital. European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.

Kallioniemi, E., J. Åström, G. M. Rusch, S. Dahle, S. Åström, and J. O. Gjershaug. 2017. Local resources, linear elements and mass-flowering crops determine bumblebee occurrences in moderately intensified farmlands. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 239:90-100.

Garibaldi et al. 2016. Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms. Science 351:387-391.

Relevant links