Restoration of riverine inland sand dune complexes: implications for the conservation of wild bees
1. The evaluation of restoration measures is an important task of conservation biology. Inland sand dunes and dry, oligotrophic grasslands have become rare habitat types in large parts of Central Europe and their restoration and management is of major importance for the preservation of many endangered plant and insect species. Within such habitats, it is important to restore key ecosystem services, such as pollination networks. As wild bees are the most important pollinators in many ecosystems, they represent a suitable key group to evaluate restoration measures. Furthermore, the recent decline of many bee species and the potential ecological and economic consequences are currently topics of strong scientific interest. 2. We studied the succession of bee communities in response to restoration measures of sand dunes and sand grasslands and compared these communities with those of old sand dune complexes. 3. Our results show that wild bees respond rapidly to restoration measures indicated by a high species richness and abundance. The community structure of bees at restoration sites converged only slightly to those of the target sites. A higher similarity was found between bee communities at the restoration sites (sand dunes and grasslands), indicating that their close proximity was an important determinant of species overlap. Environmental factors such as the number of entomophilous plant species and moisture had a strong influence on wild bee species composition. 4. Synthesis and applications. The restoration of inland sand dune complexes provides opportunities for colonization by a diverse wild bee community. Although it is difficult to establish a given target community, restoration measures gave rise to a high pollinator diversity and abundance, suggesting that community function can be re-established.