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Opportunities to reduce pollination deficits and address production shortfalls in an important insect pollinated crop

Garratt, M. P. D. ORCID:, de Groot, G. A., Albrecht, M., Bosch, J., Breeze, T. D. ORCID:, Fountain, M. T., Klein, A. M., McKerchar, M., Park, M., Paxton, R. J., Potts, S. G. ORCID:, Pufal, G., Rader, R., Senapathi, G. D. ORCID:, Andersson, G. K. S., Bernauer, O. M., Blitzer, E. J., Boreux, V., Campbell, A., Carvell, C. , Földesi, R., García, D., Garibaldi, L. A., Hambäck, P. A., Kirkitadze, G., Kovács-Hostyánszki, A., Martins, K. T., Miñarro, M., O’Connor, R., Radzeviciute, R., Roquer-Beni, L., Samnegård, U., Scott, L., Vereecken, N. J., Wäckers, F., Webber, S., Japoshvili, G. and Zhusupbaeva, A. (2021) Opportunities to reduce pollination deficits and address production shortfalls in an important insect pollinated crop. Ecological Applications, 31 (8). e02445. ISSN 0051-0761

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/eap.2445


Pollinators face multiple pressures and there is evidence of populations in decline. As demand for insect-pollinated crops increases, crop production is threatened by shortfalls in pollination services. Understanding the extent of current yield deficits due to pollination and identifying opportunities to protect or improve crop yield and quality through pollination management is therefore of international importance. To explore the extent of ‘pollination deficits’, where maximum yield is not being achieved due to insufficient pollination, we use an extensive dataset on a globally important crop, apples. We quantified how these deficits vary between orchards and countries as well as compare ‘pollinator dependence’ across different apple varieties. We found evidence of pollination deficits and in some cases, risks of over-pollination were even apparent where fruit quality could be reduced by too much pollination. In almost all regions studied we found some orchards performing significantly better than others, in terms of avoiding a pollination deficit and crop yield shortfalls due to sub-optimal pollination. This represents an opportunity to improve production through better pollinator and crop management. Our findings also demonstrate that pollinator dependence varies considerably between apple varieties in terms of fruit number and fruit quality. We propose that assessments of pollination service and deficits in crops can be used to quantify supply and demand for pollinators and help target local management to address deficits although crop variety has a strong influence on the role of pollinators.

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:98894
Publisher:Ecological Society of America


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