Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination
. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2016
, 146–151. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Many of the world’s crops are pollinated by insects, and bees are often assumed to be the most important pollinators. To our knowledge, our study is the first quantitative evaluation of the relative contribution of non-bee pollinators to global pollinator-dependent crops. Across 39 studies we show that insects other than bees are efficient pollinators providing 39% of visits to crop flowers. A shift in perspective from a bee-only focus is needed for assessments of crop pollinator biodiversity and the economic value of pollination. These studies should also consider the services provided by other types of insects, such as flies, wasps, beetles, and butterflies—important pollinators that are currently overlooked.Wild and managed bees are well documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25–50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines.
Erratum: Corrigendum: Delivery of crop pollination services is an insufficient argument for wild pollinator conservation
10841. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Nature Communications 6: Article number: 7414 (2015); Published: 16 June 2015; Updated: 18 February 2016. The authors inadvertently omitted Kimiora L. Ward, who managed and contributed data, from the author list. This has now been corrected in both the PDF and HTML versions of the Article.
Watermelon pollinators exhibit complementarity in both visitation rate and single-visit pollination efficiency
. Journal of Applied Ecology 2016
, 360-370. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Summary The concept of pollinator niche complementarity maintains that species-rich pollinator communities can provide higher and more stable pollination services than species-poor communities, due to contrasting spatial and/or temporal pollination activity among groups of pollinators. Complementarity has usually been examined in pollinators’ patterns of flower visitation or abundance, while largely neglecting the possibility of complementarity in patterns of single-visit contribution to fruit/seed set (pollination efficiency). However, variability in pollination efficiency can greatly affect pollinators’ overall pollination services and may therefore contribute an additional, important aspect of complementarity. In this study, we investigated the existence of pollinator complementarity in both visitation rates and pollination efficiencies. The study was conducted in 43 watermelon fields cultivated for seed consumption in a Mediterranean agro-natural landscape in central Israel. We studied spatiotemporal variation in pollinators’ visitation activity, measured by repeated observations and netting, and single-visit pollination efficiency, measured by the fruit and seed set rates of hermaphrodite flowers exposed to a single bee visit. Visitation and pollination efficiency were measured throughout the day and season, within and between fields with contrasting availability of nearby wild plants, and among flowers of different sizes. Pollinator species’ visitation rates as well as single-visit fruit set efficiencies, but not seed set efficiencies, exhibited significant spatiotemporal variation that contributed to their complementarity. Pollinators’ visit frequencies were affected by surrounding land use, location within field, time throughout the season, and time of day. Pollinators’ fruit set efficiencies were affected by ovary size and time of day. Synthesis and applications. Crop pollinators may exhibit complementarity in both their visitation rates and pollination efficiencies, which can promote the overall level and stability of their pollination services. Complementarity in pollination efficiencies suggests further diversity effects on crop yield, and calls for taking into account the variability in pollination efficiency along spatiotemporal scales rather than considering it a constant, species-specific trait. However, some modes of niche complementarity may not necessarily translate into increased pollination services and crop yield; the relevance and limitations of such mechanisms should be considered in the light of the specific crop and management system studied.