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Contribution of Extensive Farming Practices to the Supply of Floral Resources for Pollinators

Insects

Abstract

Simple Summary One of the causes of pollinator decline is the decreased availability of flower resources, that constitute their nutritional requirements. In particular, the intensification of agricultural practices has led to a loss of flower resources. For many years, as part of the Common Agricultural Policy and the efforts to preserve biodiversity, several Agri-Environmental Schemes (AESs) and extensive farming practices have been promoted in Europe. To assess the relative contribution of extensive farming practices such as hedgerows, organic crops and extensive grasslands, we compared pairs of agricultural landscapes in Belgium. We recorded the densities of the insect-pollinated plant species per biotope and per month, the abundance and diversity of the main visiting insects. In April, hedgerows and forest edges constituted the main nectar resources. In May, most of the nectar resources were produced by grasslands and mass-flowering crops. In June, extensive grasslands and organic crops contributed to nectar resources, contrarily to intensive agricultural elements. Extensive and diverse agricultural practices should therefore be encouraged to provide less fluctuating nectar resources on a landscape scale. Intensification of agricultural practices leads to a loss of floral resources and drives pollinator decline. Extensive agricultural practices are encouraged in Europe and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity. We compared three agricultural landscapes without extensive farming practices with three adjacent landscapes containing organic crops and extensively managed grasslands in Belgium. Nectar resource availability and plant-pollinator interactions were monitored from April to June. Flower density per plant species and plant-pollinator interactions were recorded in different landscape elements. In April, the main nectar resources were provided by linear elements such as hedgerows and forest edges. Nectar production peaked in May, driven by intensive grasslands and mass-flowering crops. Occurrence of extensive grasslands and organic crops significantly alleviated the nectar resource gap observed in June. Our results underscore the importance of maintaining landscape heterogeneity for continuous flower resources and highlight the specific role of extensive grasslands and organic crops in June.

Author(s): Langlois, A; Jacquemart, AL; Piqueray, J

Journal: Insects

Year: 2020

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