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Toward an integrated approach to crop production and pollination ecology through the application of remote sensing

Willcox, B. K., Robson, A. J., Howlett, B. G. and Rader, R. (2018) Toward an integrated approach to crop production and pollination ecology through the application of remote sensing. PeerJ, 2018 (6). e5806. ISSN 2167-8359

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To link to this item DOI: 10.7717/peerj.5806


Insect pollinators provide an essential ecosystem service by transferring pollen to crops and native vegetation. The extent to which pollinator communities vary both spatially and temporally has important implications for ecology, conservation and agricultural production. However, understanding the complex interactions that determine pollination service provisioning and production measures over space and time has remained a major challenge. Remote sensing technologies (RST), including satellite, airborne and ground based sensors, are effective tools for measuring the spatial and temporal variability of vegetation health, diversity and productivity within natural and modified systems. Yet while there are synergies between remote sensing science, pollination ecology and agricultural production, research communities have only recently begun to actively connect these research areas. Here, we review the utility of RST in advancing crop pollination research and highlight knowledge gaps and future research priorities. We found that RST are currently used across many different research fields to assess changes in plant health and production (agricultural production) and to monitor and evaluate changes in biodiversity across multiple landscape types (ecology and conservation). In crop pollination research, the use of RST are limited and largely restricted to quantifying remnant habitat use by pollinators by ascertaining the proportion of, and/or isolation from, a given land use type or local variable. Synchronization between research fields is essential to better understand the spatial and temporal variability in pollinator dependent crop production. RST enable these applications to be scaled across much larger areas than is possible with field-based methods and will facilitate large scale ecological changes to be detected and monitored. We advocate greater use of RST to better understand interactions between pollination, plant health and yield spatial variation in pollinator dependent crops. This more holistic approach is necessary for decision-makers to improve strategies toward managing multiple land use types and ecosystem services.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:87905


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