Maintaining habitat diversity at small scales benefits wild bees and pollination services in mountain apple orchards.

Published online
24 May 2024
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Ecological Solutions and Evidence

Zanini, S. & Dainese, M. & Kopf, T. & Leitinger, G. & Tappeiner, U.
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enThis link goes to a English sectionitThis link goes to a English sectiondeThis link goes to a Deutsche section Landscape context influences wild bee abundance and diversity, alongside pollination-related services. Growing evidence supports the positive effects of landscape heterogeneity on bee diversity and fruit production for pollination-dependent crops in flatlands. However, little remains known about these relationships in mountainous environments where the landscape matrix surrounding crops is often more complex than in lowlands. We conducted our study in apple orchards in South Tyrol, an Alpine region in Italy, using pan-traps, direct observations of visitation frequency and a pollinator exclusion experiment. We investigated the scale-dependent effects of landscape heterogeneity and other parameters on wild bee assemblages and the related pollination service they provide at five spatial scales (radius 100-2000 m). We found that landscape heterogeneity positively affected the abundance and richness of wild bees, with the strongest effect at 500 m. We calculated a multidiversity index, reflecting the land-use intensity based on the species richness of vascular plants, grasshoppers, butterflies, birds and bats. We identified a positive relationship between this multidiversity index and wild bee richness. Additionally, we found that visitation rate of wild bees was negatively affected by crop cover and that abundance of honeybees did not influence wild bee visitation rate or reproductive success. Finally, reproductive success was positively related to semi-natural habitat cover. Landscape heterogeneity should be maintained in apple orchards to continue to reap the benefits of vital pollination-related services. Diversification strategies should be implemented to promote habitat diversity at small scales, even in regions with more than 80% of (semi-) natural habitats.

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