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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2015

Delivery of crop pollination services is an insufficient argument for wild pollinator conservation

Kleijn, David; Bommarco, Riccardo; Potts, S. G.


There is compelling evidence that more diverse ecosystems deliver greater benefits to people, and these ecosystem services have become a key argument for biodiversity conservation. However, it is unclear how much biodiversity is needed to deliver ecosystem services in a cost- effective way. Here we show that, while the contribution of wild bees to crop production is significant, service delivery is restricted to a limited subset of all known bee species. Across crops, years and biogeographical regions, crop-visiting wild bee communities are dominated by a small number of common species, and threatened species are rarely observed on crops. Dominant crop pollinators persist under agricultural expansion and many are easily enhanced by simple conservation measures, suggesting that cost- effective management strategies to promote crop pollination should target a different set of species than management strategies to promote threatened bees. Conserving the biological diversity of bees therefore requires more than just ecosystem-service-based arguments.

Published in

Nature Communications
2015, volume: 6, article number: 7414

Authors' information

Kleijn, David
Wageningen University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Potts, S. G.
University of Reading

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences

Publication Identifiers


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