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Animal biodiversity in cider apple orchards: Simultaneous environmental drivers and effects on insectivory and pollination

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment


Making agriculture more sustainable requires a greater understanding of animal-mediated ecosystem services. The beneficial effects of pest-control and pollination provided by, respectively, insectivorous birds and pollinator insects are essential for many crops. Improving these ecosystem services simultaneously in the same crop system means, first, identifying the drivers of animal biodiversity that operate in agricultural landscapes, and second, revealing the relationships between biodiversity and the two services. Here, for two years, we addressed how landscape and small-scale orchard features affected bird and insect biodiversity (abundance and species richness) in cider apple orchards in northern Spain. We examined the effects of bird and insect biodiversity on the magnitude of, respectively, insectivory and pollination. Bird biodiversity was positively affected by the cover of apple canopy within orchards, whereas that of pollinators responded positively to the cover of semi-natural woody habitats and eucalyptus plantations in the surrounding landscape, and also on the level of bloom at the orchard scale. Insectivory, estimated from sentinel model and exclusion experiments, was positively affected by increased abundance and richness of birds across orchards. Similarly, fruit set responded positively to higher abundance and richness of wild bees, whereas seed set mostly depended on the abundance of wild pollinators. Our findings suggest simultaneous positive effects of animal biodiversity on pest-control and pollination in apple orchards, with no sign of trade-offs between biodiversity groups or between ecosystem functions. A multi-scaled management of orchard-level features (apple canopies and surrounding hedgerows for birds, and apple bloom and ground cover for pollinators) and landscape-level ones (surrounding cover of semi-natural woody habitats, moderate for birds, high for pollinators) is encouraged for the simultaneous enhancement of pest-control and pollination. Biodiversity-farming win-win scenarios are possible in cider apple orchards by simultaneously promoting multiple animal-mediated ecosystem services.

Author(s): Martinez-Sastre, R; Minarro, M; Garcia, D

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2020


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