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Integrated crop pollination to buffer spatial and temporal variability in pollinator activity

Garratt, M. P. D., Brown, R., Hartfield, C., Hart, A. and Potts, S. G. (2018) Integrated crop pollination to buffer spatial and temporal variability in pollinator activity. Basic and Applied Ecology, 32. pp. 77-85. ISSN 1439-1791

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.baae.2018.06.005


Insect pollination improves the yield and quality of many crops, yet there is increasing evidence of insufficient insect pollinators limiting crop production. Effective Integrated Crop Pollination (ICP) involves adaptable, targeted and cost effective management of crop pollination and encourages the use of both wild and managed pollinators where appropriate. In this study we investigate how the addition of honeybee hives affects the community of insects visiting oilseed rape, and if hive number and location affect pollinator foraging and oilseed rape pollination in order to provide evidence for effective ICP. We found that introducing hives increased overall flower visitor numbers and altered the pollinator community, which became dominated by honeybees. Furthermore a greater number of hives did not increase bee numbers significantly but did result in honeybees foraging further into fields. The timing of surveys and proximity to the field edge influenced different pollinators in different ways and represents an example of spatial and temporal complementarity. For example dipteran flower visitor numbers declined away from the field edge whereas honeybees peaked at intermediate distances into the field. Furthermore, no significant effects of survey round on wild bees overall was observed but honeybee numbers were relatively lower during peak flowering and dipteran abundance was greater in later survey rounds. Thus combining diverse wild pollinators and managed species for crop pollination buffers spatial and temporal variation in flower visitation. However we found no effect of insect pollination on seed set or yield of oilseed rape in our trial, highlighting the critical need to understand crop demand for insect pollination before investments are made in managing pollination services.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Sustainable Land Management > Centre for Agri-environmental Research (CAER)
ID Code:77941


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