The Formal Model for the solitary bee Osmia bicornis L. agent‑based model

Elżbieta Ziółkowska*, Agnieszka Bednarska, Ryszard Laskowski, Christopher John Topping

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Solitary bees provide an important ecological and agricultural service by pollinating both wild plants and crops, often more effectively than honey bees. In the context of worldwide pollinators' declines, it is important to better understand the functioning of populations under multiple stressors at larger spatial and temporal scales. Here we propose building a detailed, spatially-explicit agent-based model of one of the best-studied species of solitary bees, Osmia bicornis L. In this Formal Model, we review various aspects of O. bicornis biology and ecology in detail and provide descriptions of their planned implementations in the model. We also discuss the model gaps and limitations, as well as inclusions and exclusions, allowing a dialogue with the reviewers about the model's design.

The ALMaSS model of O. bicornis aims to provide a realistic and detailed representation of O. bicornis populations in space and time in European agricultural landscapes. The model will be a part of the Animal, Landscape and Man Simulation System (ALMaSS); thus will be able to utilise a highly detailed, dynamic ALMaSS landscape model. It will consider the behaviour of all bee life stages daily and use state transitions to allow each individual to decide their behaviour. The development of egg-to-pupa stages in the nest will be temperature-driven. Adult bees, after they emerge from the nest in spring, will interact with the environment. They will be able to search for suitable nesting locations, provision their brood cells with pollen and reproduce. Modelled females will balance offspring size and number following the optimal allocation theory, but local environmental factors will modify their actual parental investment decisions. The model will include the daily mortality rate for the egg-to-pupa stages, overwintering mortality, and background mortality outside the nest. We will also consider the risk of open-cell parasitism as increasing with the time the brood cell is open.

With the level of detail suggested, the model will be able to simulate population-level dynamics in response to multiple factors at the landscape scale over long periods. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has suggested O. bicornis as a model organism for non-Apis solitary bees in the pesticide risk assessment scheme. Therefore, we hope our model will be a first step in building future landscape risk assessments for solitary bees.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere102102
JournalFood and Ecological Systems Modelling Journal
Number of pages59
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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