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Pollinator habitat enhancement: Benefits to other ecosystem services

Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Abstract

A range of policy initiatives have been promoted in recent years to address the decline of bee populations in Europe and North America. Among these has been the establishment of flower-rich habitat within or around intensively farmed landscapes to increase the availability of pollen and nectar resources. The composition of these habitats depends on location and compatibility, with adjacent cropping systems, but they often consist of fields planted with temporary flowering cover crops, field borders with perennial or annual flowering species, hedgerows comprising prolifically flowering shrubs, and grass buffer strips (used to manage erosion and nutrient runoff) which are supplemented with dicotyledonous flower species. While the primary objective of such measures is to increase the ecological fitness of pollinator populations through enhanced larval and adult nutrition, such strategies also provide secondary benefits to the farm and the surrounding landscape. Specifically, the conservation of pollinator habitat can enhance overall biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides (including pest population reduction), protect soil and water quality by mitigating runoff and protecting against soil erosion, and enhance rural aesthetics. Incorporating these secondary benefits into decision making processes is likely to help stakeholders to assess the trade-offs implicit in supplying ecosystem services. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Author(s): Wratten, SD; Gillespie, M; Decourtye, A; Mader, E; Desneux, N

Journal: Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment

Year: 2012

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