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Growing concern about bee declines and associated loss of pollination services has increased the urgency to identify the underlying causes. So far, the identification of the key drivers of decline of bee populations has largely been based on speculation. We assessed the relative importance of a range of proposed factors responsible for wild bee decline and show that loss of preferred host plant species is one of the main factors associated with the decline of bee populations in The Netherlands. Interestingly, species foraging on crop plant families have stable or increasing populations. These results indicate that mitigation strategies for loss of wild bees will only be effective if they target the specific host plants of declining bee species.
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