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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Wild insect diversity increases inter-annual stability in global crop pollinator communities

Senapathi, Deepa; Fruend, Jochen; Albrecht, Matthias; Garratt, Michael P. D.; Kleijn, David; Pickles, Brian J.; Potts, Simon G.; An, Jiandong; Andersson, Georg K. S.; Baensch, Svenja; Basu, Parthiba; Benjamin, Faye; Bezerra, Antonio Diego M.; Bhattacharya, Ritam; Biesmeijer, Jacobus C.; Blaauw, Brett; Blitzer, Eleanor J.; Brittain, Claire A.; Carvalheiro, Luisa G.; Cariveau, Daniel P.;
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While an increasing number of studies indicate that the range, diversity and abundance of many wild pollinators has declined, the global area of pollinator-dependent crops has significantly increased over the last few decades. Crop pollination studies to date have mainly focused on either identifying different guilds pollinating various crops, or on factors driving spatial changes and turnover observed in these communities. The mechanisms driving temporal stability for ecosystem functioning and services, however, remain poorly understood. Our study quantifies temporal variability observed in crop pollinators in 21 different crops across multiple years at a global scale. Using data from 43 studies from six continents, we show that (i) higher pollinator diversity confers greater inter-annual stability in pollinator communities, (ii) temporal variation observed in pollinator abundance is primarily driven by the three-most dominant species, and (iii) crops in tropical regions demonstrate higher inter-annual variability in pollinator species richness than crops in temperate regions. We highlight the importance of recognizing wild pollinator diversity in agricultural landscapes to stabilize pollinator persistence across years to protect both biodiversity and crop pollination services. Short-term agricultural management practices aimed at dominant species for stabilizing pollination services need to be considered alongside longer term conservation goals focussed on maintaining and facilitating biodiversity to confer ecological stability.


pollinators; temporal stability; crops; insect diversity; inter-annual variation; dominant species

Published in

Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

2021, volume: 288, number: 1947, article number: 20210212
Publisher: ROYAL SOC

Authors' information

Senapathi, Deepa
University of Reading
Fruend, Jochen
University of Freiburg
Albrecht, Matthias
Swiss Federal Research Station Agroscope
Garratt, Michael P. D.
University of Reading
Kleijn, David
Wageningen University and Research
Pickles, Brian J.
University of Reading
Potts, Simon G.
University of Reading
An, Jiandong
Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
Andersson, Georg K. S.
Universidad Nacional de Río Negro
Baensch, Svenja
University of Gottingen
Basu, Parthiba
University of Calcutta
Benjamin, Faye
Rutgers State University New Brunswick
Bezerra, Antonio Diego M.
Universidade Federal do Ceara
Bhattacharya, Ritam
University of Calcutta
Biesmeijer, Jacobus C.
Naturalis Biodiversity Center
Blaauw, Brett
University System of Georgia
Blitzer, Eleanor J.
Carroll Coll
Brittain, Claire A.
Carvalheiro, Luisa G.
Universidade Federal de Goias
Cariveau, Daniel P.
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
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Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

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