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Small wild bee abundance declines with distance into strawberry crops regardless of field margin habitat

Basic and Applied Ecology


The preservation of pollinator habitat on croplands in the form of hedgerows, wildflower strips, and natural and semi-natural areas can help maintain and enhance wild bee populations in agricultural landscapes. However, there have been few comparisons of the effectiveness of different types of field-margin pollinator habitat in maintaining bee diversity and pollination of the focal crops. We compared wild bee abundance, species richness and community composition between strawberry crops bordered by hedgerows, and those bordered by larger expanses of natural land (forests). Strawberry is an ideal crop in which to investigate pollinator export from field margins as the rows are covered with straw, which reduces habitat for ground-nesting bees within the crop; thus, most wild pollinators need to enter the crop from the margins. We sampled bees in six strawberry fields with hedgerow margins and six strawberry fields with forested margins of at least 200 m in length, using a paired design. We examined strawberry pollen deposition at regular intervals into the fields, and the magnitude of pollinator export from the field margins towards the centre of the crops. We found that bees as a group were no more species-rich or abundant in crops bordered by forests than in crops bordered by hedgerows, although large-bodied bees were more abundant in the former than the latter. Regardless of field-margin type, we found that small wild bee abundance declined significantly from the edge to the centre of the crop, but honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and large-bodied bee abundance did not. Strawberry pollen deposition also did not decline with distance into the crop. Although previous work indicates that small wild bees are more effective (yield-increasing) pollinators of strawberry on a per-visit basis, their limited foraging ranges suggest they may only pollinate areas near the crop margins, given typical field sizes in our area. (C) 2020 Gesellschaft fur Okologie. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Author(s): MacInnis, G; Buddle, CM; Forrest, JRK

Journal: Basic and Applied Ecology

Year: 2020


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