Elizabeth Kay Nicholls

Elizabeth Kay Nicholls
University of Sussex · Department of Evolution, Behaviour and Environment

PhD Animal Behaviour

About

46
Publications
18,331
Reads
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4,090
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2012 - September 2013
University of Exeter
Position
  • Research Associate

Publications

Publications (46)
Article
Disease is an integral part of any organisms' life, and bees have evolved immune responses and a suite of hygienic behaviours to keep them at bay in the nest. It is now evident that flowers are another transmission hub for pathogens and parasites, raising questions about adaptations that help pollinating insects stay healthy while visiting hundreds...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat loss and fragmentation are considered the foremost threats in pollinator decline, and in England and Wales, 97% of wildflower meadows were lost by 1984. The value of creating flower-rich margins in agricultural environments is established, yet there is growing potential to support pollinator populations in urban landscapes. We used citizen...
Article
Efficient foraging is vital to bee fitness but is challenging in the Anthropocene.
Article
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is a fundamental physiological measure linked to numerous aspects of organismal function, including lifespan. Although dietary restriction in insects during larval growth/development affects adult RMR, the impact of the nutritional composition of larval diets (i.e. diet quality) on adult RMR has not been studied. Using...
Preprint
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is a fundamental physiological measure linked to numerous aspects of organismal function, including lifespan. Although dietary restriction in insects during larval growth/development affects adult RMR, the impact of larval diet quality on adult RMR has not been studied. Using in vitro rearing to control larval diet qual...
Article
Full-text available
Food production depends upon the adequate provision of underpinning ecosystem services, such as pollination. Paradoxically, conventional farming practices are undermining these services and resulting in degraded soils, polluted waters, greenhouse gas emissions and massive loss of biodiversity including declines in pollinators. In essence, farming i...
Article
Full-text available
1. Global pollinator declines have led to concern that crop yields might fall as a result of a pollination deficit. Companion planting is a traditional practice thought to increase yield of insect pollinated crops by planting a co‐flowering species next to the crop. 2. Using a combination of conventional researcher‐led experiments and observational...
Article
Full-text available
In addition to sugars, nectar contains multiple nutrient compounds in varying concentrations, yet little is known of their effect on the reward properties of nectar and the resulting implications for insect behaviour. We examined the pre-ingestive responses of honeybees to sucrose solutions containing a mix of pollen compounds, the amino acids prol...
Article
Full-text available
Concerns regarding the impact of neonicotinoid exposure on bee populations recently led to an EU-wide moratorium on the use of certain neonicotinoids on flowering crops. Currently evidence regarding the impact, if any, the moratorium has had on bees’ exposure is limited. We sampled pollen and nectar from bumblebee colonies in rural and peri-urban h...
Article
Full-text available
On 28 April 2018 the European Parliament voted for a complete and permanent ban on all outdoor uses of the three most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides. With the partial exception of the state of Ontario, Canada, governments elsewhere have failed to take action. Below is a letter, signed by 232 scientists from around the world, urgently callin...
Article
Full-text available
The spontaneous occurrence of colour preferences without learning has been demonstrated in several insect species; however, the underlying mechanisms are still not understood. Here, we use a comparative approach to investigate spontaneous and learned colour preferences in foraging bees of two tropical and one temperate species. We hypothesised that...
Article
Full-text available
There is widespread concern regarding the effects of agro-chemical exposure on bee health, of which neonicotinoids, systemic insecticides detected in the pollen and nectar of both crops and wildflowers, have been the most strongly debated. The majority of studies examining the effect of neonicotinoids on bees have focussed on social species, namely...
Data
Number of male and female bees engaging in continuous versus discontinuous gas exchange across clothianidin treatments
Data
Metabolic rate of bees engaging in continuous and discontinous gas exchange Metabolic rate of bees engaging in (A) continuous (male = black circles n = 7, female = open circles n = 17) and (B) discontinous gas exchange (male = black circles n = 41, female = open circles n = 37). Bees had been exposed to varying concentrations of clothianidin during...
Data
Weight of pollen provisions, larvae, pupae and adults across clothianidin treatments Mean (±SD) weight of pollen provisions, larvae, pupae and emerged adults across clothianidin treatments.
Data
Larval development times, stage mortality rates and body weights Raw data used in analyses and to prepare Table 1, Fig. 1, Fig. 2 and Table S1.
Data
Method detection and quantification limits and recoveries for pollen samples spiked with clothianidin Method detection limits (MDLs), method quantification (MQLs) limits and absolute recoveries (n = 4) of five neonicotinoids, for pollen samples extracted using the QuEChERS method and analysed by UHPLC-MS/MS. TMX, thiamethoxam; CLO, clothianidin; IM...
Data
Number of days until adult bees emerged from hibernation Number of days to emergence for male and female bees across clothianidin treatments.
Data
Number of days taken for male and female bees to emerge from hibernation Raw data used in analyses and to prepare TS3.
Data
Adult metabolic rates Rates of carbon dioxide production by adult bees, used in analyses and to produce Fig. 3C, Table 3, Fig. 4 and Fig S1.
Data
Raw metabolic rate data Integral of CO2min−1 vs min, normalised for recording period and temperature.
Article
Full-text available
The removal of pollen by flower-visiting insects is costly to plants, not only in terms of production, but also via lost reproductive potential. Modern angiosperms have evolved various reward strategies to limit these costs, yet many plant species still offer pollen as a sole or major reward for pollinating insects. The benefits plants gain by offe...
Article
Full-text available
Lévy flights are scale-free (fractal) search patterns found in a wide range of animals. They can be an advantageous strategy promoting high encounter rates with rare cues that may indicate prey items, mating partners or navigational landmarks. The robustness of this behavioural strategy to ubiquitous threats to animal performance, such as pathogens...
Data
Appendix S1. Testing confidence intervals at 95% and 99% for predictions of flight durations of Nosema‐infected bees against previously reported data.
Article
Bee declines have received much attention of late, but there is considerable debate and confusion as to the extent, significance and causes of declines. In part, this reflects conflation of data for domestic honeybees, numbers of which are largely driven by economic factors, with those for wild bees, many of which have undergone marked range contra...
Article
Full-text available
Sudden and severe declines in honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony health in the US and Europe have been attributed, in part, to emergent microbial pathogens, however, the mechanisms behind the impact are unclear. Using roundabout flight mills, we measured the flight distance and duration of actively foraging, healthy-looking honey bees sampled from s...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, many pollinators have declined in abundance and diversity worldwide, presenting a potential threat to agricultural productivity, biodiversity and the functioning of natural ecosystems. One of the most debated factors proposed to be contributing to pollinator declines is exposure to pesticides, particularly neonicotinoids, a widely...
Article
There is considerable and ongoing debate as to the harm inflicted on bees by exposure to agricultural pesticides. In part, the lack of consensus reflects a shortage of information on field-realistic levels of exposure. Here, we quantify concentrations of neonicotinoid insecticides and fungicides in the pollen of oilseed rape, and in pollen of wildf...
Article
In recent years, an intense debate has been generated about the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoids, a group of widely-used, neurotoxic insecticides. When these systemic compounds are applied to seeds, low concentrations are subsequently found in the nectar and pollen of the crop, which are then collected and consumed by bees. Here we demon...
Article
Full-text available
What bees learn during pollen collection, and how they might discriminate between flowers on the basis of the quality of this reward, is not well understood. Recently we showed that bees learn to associate colours with differences in pollen rewards. Extending these findings, we present here additional evidence to suggest that the strength and time-...
Article
Ghazoul is accurate in pointing out that we have no population data on the majority of pollinators, that the data we do have are biased toward a small number of taxa (bumblebees, honey bees, and butterflies), and that data are far better for Europe and North America than for elsewhere. These points
Article
Full-text available
Bees are subject to numerous pressures in the modern world. The abundance and diversity of flowers has declined, bees are chronically exposed to cocktails of agrochemicals, and they are simultaneously exposed to novel parasites accidentally spread by humans. Climate change is likely to exacerbate these problems in the future. Stressors do not act i...
Article
Full-text available
In contrast to the wealth of knowledge concerning sucrose-rewarded learning, the question of whether bees learn when they collect pollen from flowers has been little addressed. The nutritional value of pollen varies considerably between species, and it may be that bees learn the features of flowers that produce pollen best suited to the dietary req...
Article
Full-text available
The function of pollen as a reward for foraging bees is little understood, though there is evidence to suggest that it can reinforce associations with visual and olfactory floral cues. Foraging bees do not feed on pollen, thus one could argue that it cannot serve as an appetitive reinforcer in the same way as sucrose. However, ingestion is not a cr...
Article
In contrast to the wealth of knowledge concerning sucrose-rewarded learning, the question of what bees learn when they collect pollen from flowers has been little addressed. Whilst of importance for understanding the variety of insect learning mechanisms, this may also shed light on the role that pollen rewards played in shaping the evolutionary re...
Article
Full-text available
Two experiments examined whether pigeons discriminate polymorphous categories on the basis of a single highly predictive feature or overall similarity. In the first experiment, pigeons were trained to discriminate between categories of photographs of complex real objects. Within these pictures, single features had been manipulated to produce a high...

Questions

Questions (2)
Question
There is considerable debate as to whether foraging bees are able to assess the 'quality' of pollen they collect, and if so whether such a discrimination would be based on crude protein content and/or other nutrients. I wondered if there are any examples of other organisms being able to sense pre-ingestively (i.e. 'taste') differences in the protein content of food items?  
Question
Has anyone ever tried to rear bee larvae using pollen diluted with alpha-cellulose? It has been used previously to manipulate the quality of pollen for collection by foraging bees, but I wondered if it would harm larvae to consume this diluted pollen, since alpha-cellulose is typically described as 'indigestable'?
Many thanks in advance!

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Using a combination of electrophysiological, behavioural and field techniques we will determine the sensory and cognitive cues that guide pollen foraging choices in social and solitary bees.