Potts S.G., Biesmeijer J.C., Bommarco R., Felicioli A., Fischer M., Jokinen P., Kleijn D., Klein A-M., Kunin W.E., Neumann P., Penev L.D., Petanidou T., Rasmont P., Roberts S.P.M., Smith H.G., Sorensen P.B., Steffan-Dewenter I., Vaissière B.E., Vilà M., Vujić A., Woyciechowski M., Zobel M., Settele J. & Schweiger O. (2011) Developing European onservation and mitigation tools for pollination services: approaches of the STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators) project. Journal of Apicultural Research 50: 152-164.
A position paper describing the overall aim and objectives, research approach and expected results of the project STEP was recently published in Journal of Apicultural Research. Pollinating insects form a key component of European biodiversity, and provide a vital ecosystem service to crops and wild plants. There is growing evidence of declines in both wild and domesticated pollinators, and parallel declines in plants relying upon them. The STEP project (Status and Trends of European Pollinators, 2010-2015, www.step-project.net) is documenting critical elements in the nature and extent of these declines, examining key functional traits associated with pollination deficits, and developing a Red List for some European pollinator groups. Together these activities are laying the groundwork for future pollinator monitoring programmes. STEP is also assessing the relative importance of potential drivers of pollinator declines, including climate change, habitat loss and fragmentation, agrochemicals, pathogens, alien species, light pollution, and their interactions. We are measuring the ecological and economic impacts of declining pollinator services and floral resources, including effects on wild plant populations, crop production and human nutrition. STEP is reviewing existing and potential mitigation options, and providing novel tests of their effectiveness across Europe. Our work is building upon existing and newly developed datasets and models, complemented by spatially-replicated campaigns of field research to fill gaps in current knowledge. Findings are being integrated into a policy-relevant framework to create evidence-based decision support tools. STEP is establishing communication links to a wide range of stakeholders across Europe and beyond, including policy makers, beekeepers, farmers, academics and the general public. Taken together, the STEP research programme aims to improve our understanding of the nature, causes, consequences and potential mitigation of declines in pollination services at local, national, continental and global scales.