Floral interventions enhance flower visitor communities and pollination services in Moringa plantations.

Published online
17 Apr 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Dhandapani, S. & Manikandan Pakkirisamy & Ranjith Rajaraman & Garratt, M. P. D. & Potts, S. G. & Rengalakshmi Raj & Malarvannan Subramanian & Senapathi, D.
Contact email(s)

Publication language
Tamil Nadu & India


enThis link goes to a English sectiontaThis link goes to a English section Pollination is a crucial ecosystem service contributing to global food security. Moringa (Moringa oleifera) is an economically important tropical crop, mostly cultivated by smallholder farmers. Well-established approaches of planting flower-rich patches used in temperate agroecosystems for pollination enhancement were adapted to tropical moringa systems. Based on existing evidence, we hypothesised that floral interventions would improve flower visitor diversity and abundance in the crop, thereby increasing pollination services and moringa yield and quality. We used standardised methods to survey flower visitors on moringa and assess economically relevant measures of crop yield quality and quantity. We selected 24 moringa fields in Tamil Nadu, India, to compare fields with and without floral interventions. We planted red gram, Cajanus cajan as a border crop, and marigold, Tagetes erecta as an intercrop on moringa fields to enhance floral resource availability for pollinators. These interventions were co-designed with local farmers to ensure additional benefits to their community. We found that flower visitor abundance and species richness were significantly (50% for abundance and 33% for species richness) greater in fields with floral interventions compared with control fields. We also found that the percentage of flowers that resulted in harvestable fruits were significantly (30%) greater in fields with floral intervention. Production benefits in yield and quality were significantly positively correlated with the abundance and species richness of flower visitors. Synthesis and applications. Our results provide clear evidence that floral interventions in the form of intercropping and border cropping can enhance pollinator communities and services they provide in tropical smallholder systems. These findings underpin a practical management option for farmers to enhance flower visitor communities and pollination services, which can potentially also provide additional co-benefits to farmers, improving livelihoods and sustainable production.

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