Page last updated at 12:33 GMT, Monday, 2 April 2007 13:33 UK

Rare bumblebee to be researched

Great yellow bumblebee (Pic: SNH)
The great yellow has strongholds on the Western Isles

Research is to be carried out to determine the link between traditional crofting methods and the survival of one of the UK's rarest bumblebees.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said the great yellow had declined dramatically over the past 50 years.

It is funding a study of populations in the Hebrides and parts of Sutherland.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust said PhD student Nicky Redpath would investigate the insect's relationship with crofting.

The trust had planned to set up a great yellow reserve in the Hebrides, but this plan has changed to one which would actively encourage crofting practices.

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