Using landscape genetic techniques to understand the impact of habitat fragmentation on the dispersal of insect pollinators (Diptera: Syrphidae)


Myathropa floreaPollinators provide a key ecosystem service and their importance for food security is widely acknowledged. Alarmingly though, wild pollinators are declining at local, regional, and global scales, primarily as a consequence of human activities. While land-use change is often seen as a main driver of the problem, there is a considerable lack of knowledge on the responses of invertebrate pollinators to the resulting habitat loss and homogenisation. For instance, while hoverflies (Diptera: Syrphidae) are the most important pollinators besides bees, little is known about their dispersal in general and the effects of landscape fragmentation on their dispersal in particular. The overall objective of the proposed study is therefore to use microsatellite genotyping and landscape genetics to analyse the functional connectivity of typical Luxembourg and Western European landscapes from the viewpoint of hoverflies. We aim to understand whether urbanisation and the structural diversity of agro-ecosystems have an impact on hoverfly dispersal and which landscape features facilitate or hinder gene flow. The approach will be conducted for four target species in three urbanised areas and two pairs of rural areas with different degrees of habitat diversity. Furthermore, we will test whether hoverfly size and habitat specialisation may influence the impact of habitat fragmentation on the flies. Finally, we aim to test the validity of extrapolating connectivity models to larger or different study regions. The proposed project has the potential to make an important contribution in the design of effective habitat management practices for hoverflies, if not insect pollinators in general, since we propose to empirically test dispersal capabilities in different landscapes, taking different biological and ecological characteristics into account.

Project status

  • Project granted by the granted by Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg. Duration: 3 years (01.02.2021 – 31.01.2024).
  • Host institution: Fondation faune-flore @ Centre de recherche scientifique, Musée national d’histoire naturelle.
  • Postdoctoral Researcher to be hired.


National Museum of Natural History (MNHNL)
Research centre
Life science department
25, rue Münster
L-2160 Luxembourg