Predicted thresholds for natural vegetation cover to safeguard pollinator services in agricultural landscapes

Arnob Chatterjee, Soumik Chatterjee, Barbara Smith, James E. Cresswell, Parthiba Basu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The conversion of natural vegetation into cultivated land can cause pollinator declines and thereby degrade pollination services to crops and wildflowers. The effect of landscape composition on pollinator abundance is well established, but its impact on pollination intensity and crop yield is not fully resolved. We therefore studied pollination of two crops in India, brinjal (Solanum melongena) and mustard (Brassica nigra), along a landscape-scale gradient in habitat transformation from forest-dominated natural vegetation to intensive cultivation. We quantified the pollination requirements (pollen receipt-seed set relationships) of the crops and the levels of pollen delivery by their principal pollinators, bees. Combining these with field surveys of pollinator abundance, we modelled the levels of pollination service to fields along the landscape gradient. Projected pollination services declined as the area occupied by natural vegetation decreased. We identified thresholds at which bee pollination no longer supported maximum seed set, which were landscapes with approximately one quarter (27 %) of nearby natural vegetation for brinjal fields and one fifth (18 %) for mustard. Our findings indicate that preserving or restoring the cover of natural habitats above these minimum thresholds could be a valuable strategy for maintaining pollinator abundance and safeguarding yield in these bee-pollinated crops.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106785
JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
Volume290
Early online date10 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, 290, (2020) DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2019.106785

© 2019, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Keywords

  • Bees
  • Brassica rapa
  • Habitat loss
  • Pollen limitation
  • Pollinator conservation
  • Solanum melongena

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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