How land use affects plants and their pollinators


An Agroscope study has identified factors which contribute to the resilience of pollination systems in agricultural landscapes. Yet flowering plants in intensively used farmland were visited less often by insects, with implications for species diversity and yields.

Most wild plants and many crops rely on insects for pollination to ensure reproduction and good yields. Therefore, it is essential that pollination systems, which depend on complex interactions between pollinating insects and plants, remain effective and resilient. Agroscope researchers have been studying factors which play a major role in well-functioning and resilient pollination systems with respect to different land use intensity in selected agroecosystems in three countries – Germany, France and Switzerland.

Robust system with weak points

The experts discovered that 20% of both species and plant-pollinator interactions are lost when the proportion of arable crops in a landscape rises from 30% to 80%. The decline in interactions can be partially offset: 5% of the most common pollinator species made a particular contribution to the stability and resilience of plant-pollinator networks and thus pollination systems. Yet flowering plants in intensively used farmland were visited less often by pollinating insects. In summary, despite factors which increase their resilience, land use changes can have a significant impact on interactions between plant and pollinator communities. This can have implications for species diversity, pollination and crop yields. For both agriculture and for maintaining biodiversity, it is thus essential to protect and promote pollinator communities through optimised management and targeted measures such as ecological focus areas.
The scientific article has been published as an open access paper in the Journal «Diversity and Distributions».

Last modification 24.05.2024

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