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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Landscape crop diversity and semi-natural habitat affect crop pollinators, pollination benefit and yield

Raderschall, Chloe A.; Bommarco, Riccardo; Lindstrom, Sandra A. M.; Lundin, Ola


Agricultural intensification has led to the conversion of natural habitats into agricultural fields, increased field sizes and simplified crop rotations. The resulting homogenisation of the landscape has led to a decline in bees, which provide an essential ecosystem service to agriculture. It has been suggested that an increase in landscape crop diversity supports higher biodiversity by providing more diverse and continuous resources without taking land out of agricultural production. We selected 14 faba bean (Vicia faba minor L.) fields in southern Sweden along uncorrelated gradients of landscape crop diversity and proportion of semi-natural habitat within 1.5 km radii surrounding focal fields. Pollinator surveys and pollinator exclusion experiments were conducted to assess whether landscape crop diversity affected pollinator densities, pollinator foraging behaviour (i.e. legitimate flower visitation, nectar robbing or extra-floral nectary visitation), pollination and yield formation. Landscape crop diversity enhanced bumble bee densities. Insect-pollinated faba bean plants produced, on average, 27 % higher bean weight per plant than bagged plants and the insect pollination benefit decreased with increasing semi-natural habitat cover. Bumble bee and honey bee densities, the proportion of nectar robbing bees as well as faba bean yield increased with increasing proportion of semi-natural habitat. Pollinator densities were not the driver of high yields associated with higher proportions of semi-natural habitat because the observed yield increase was unrelated to pollinator densities and driven by bagged plants that were excluded from pollinator visits. Insect pollination, however, clearly decreased the yield gap associated with low proportions of semi natural habitat in the landscape. Our results highlight that agri-environmental policies should promote the retention of existing semi-natural habitats and encourage landscape crop diversity to provide pollinators with sufficient food and nesting resources.


Landscape crop diversity; Pollinators; Pollination; Faba beans; Bumble bee; Semi-natural habitat; Ecological intensification

Published in

Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
2021, Volume: 306, article number: 107189
Publisher: ELSEVIER

      SLU Authors

        Associated SLU-program

        SLU Plant Protection Network

        Sustainable Development Goals

        SDG2 Zero hunger

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Agricultural Science

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