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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Bees increase seed set of wild plants while the proportion of arable land has a variable effect on pollination in European agricultural landscapes

Herbertsson, Lina; Ekroos, Johan; Albrecht, Matthias; Bartomeus, Ignasi; Batary, Peter; Bommarco, Riccardo; Caplat, Paul; Diekotter, Tim; Eikestam, Jenny M.; Entling, Martin H.; Farbu, Sunniva; Farwig, Nina; Gonzalez-Varo, Juan P.; Hass, Annika L.; Holzschuh, Andrea; Hopfenmueller, Sebastian; Jakobsson, Anna; Jauker, Birgit; Kovacs-Hostyanszki, Aniko; Kleve, Wera;
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Background and aims - Agricultural intensification and loss of farmland heterogeneity have contributed to population declines of wild bees and other pollinators, which may have caused subsequent declines in insect-pollinated wild plants. Material and methods - Using data from 37 studies on 22 pollinator-dependent wild plant species across Europe, we investigated whether flower visitation and seed set of insect-pollinated plants decline with an increasing proportion of arable land within 1 km. Key results - Seed set increased with increasing flower visitation by bees, most of which were wild bees, but not with increasing flower visitation by other insects. Increasing proportion of arable land had a strongly variable effect on seed set and flower visitation by bees across studies. Conclusion - Factors such as landscape configuration, local habitat quality, and temporally changing resource availability (e.g. due to mass-flowering crops or honey bee hives) could have modified the effect of arable land on pollination. While our results highlight that the persistence of wild bees is crucial to maintain plant diversity, we also show that pollen limitation due to declining bee populations in homogenized agricultural landscapes is not a universal driver causing parallel losses of bees and insect-pollinated plants.


Habitat loss; landscape complexity; landscape simplification; pollination; pollinating insects; semi-natural

Published in

Plant Ecology and Evolution
2021, volume: 154, number: 3, pages: 341-350

Authors' information

Herbertsson, Lina
Lund University
Ekroos, Johan
Lund University
Albrecht, Matthias
Swiss Federal Research Station Agroscope
Bartomeus, Ignasi
CSIC - Estacion Biologica de Donana (EBD)
Batary, Peter
Hungarian Centre for Ecological Research
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Caplat, Paul
Queens University Belfast
Caplat, Paul
Lund University
Diekotter, Tim
University of Kiel
Eikestam, Jenny M.
Lund University
Entling, Martin H.
University of Koblenz and Landau
Farbu, Sunniva
Lund University
Farwig, Nina
Philipps University Marburg
Gonzalez-Varo, Juan P.
CSIC - Estacion Biologica de Donana (EBD)
Hass, Annika L.
University of Gottingen
Holzschuh, Andrea
University of Wurzburg
Hopfenmueller, Sebastian
University of Wurzburg
Jakobsson, Anna
University West
Jauker, Birgit
Justus Liebig University Giessen
Kovacs-Hostyanszki, Aniko
Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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