The forgotten flies: The importance of non-syrphid Diptera as pollinators

Katherine A. Orford*, Ian P. Vaughan, Jane Memmott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

165 Citations (Scopus)
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Bees, hoverflies and butterflies are taxa frequently studied as pollinators in agricultural and conservation contexts. Although there are many records of non-syrphid Diptera visiting flowers, they are generally not regarded as important pollinators. We use data from 30 pollen-transport networks and 71 pollinator-visitation networks to compare the importance of various flower-visiting taxa as pollen-vectors. We specifically compare non-syrphid Diptera and Syrphidae to determine whether neglect of the former in the literature is justified. We found no significant difference in pollen-loads between the syrphid and non-syrphid Diptera. Moreover, there was no significant difference in the level of specialization between the two groups in the pollen-transport networks, though the Syrphidae had significantly greater visitation evenness. Flower visitation data from 33 farms showed that non-syrphid Diptera made up the majority of the flower-visiting Diptera in the agricultural studies (on average 82% abundance and 73% species richness), and we estimate that non-syrphid Diptera carry 84% of total pollen carried by farmland Diptera. As important pollinators, such as bees, have suffered serious declines, it would be prudent to improve our understanding of the role of non-syrphid Diptera as pollinators.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20142934
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1805
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2015


  • Non-syrphid Diptera
  • Pollen-loads
  • Pollen-transport networks
  • Pollinators
  • Syrphidae


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