Predicted thresholds for natural vegetation cover to safeguard pollination services to crops in agricultural landscapes
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Arnob Chatterjee, Department of Zoology, Calcutta University, Kolkata, India
Department of Zoology, Calcutta University Kolkata, India
Background/Question/Methods The conversion of natural vegetation into cultivated land can cause pollinator declines and thereby degrade pollination services to crops and wildflowers. The effect of landscape quality on pollinator abundance is well established, but its impact on pollination intensity and crop yield is not fully resolved. We therefore studied pollination of two crops in India, brinjal (Solanum melongena) and mustard (Brassica nigra), along a landscape scale gradient in habitat transformation from forest-dominated natural vegetation to intensive cultivation. We quantified the pollination requirements (pollen receipt-seed set relationships) of the crops and the levels of pollen delivery by their principal pollinators, bees. Combining these with field surveys of pollinator abundance, we modelled the levels of pollination service to fields along the landscape gradient. Results/Conclusions With a pollination service index (PSI) it is shown that pollination service is inadequate in the high intensification zones for mustard and both mid and high intensification zones for Brinjal. Wild bees play more crucial role in the case of Brinjal in delivering required pollination service compared to social bees. Projected pollination services declined as the area occupied by natural vegetation decreased. We identified thresholds at which bee pollination no longer supported maximum seed set, which were landscapes with approximately one quarter (27 %) of nearby natural vegetation for brinjal fields and one fifth (18 %) for mustard. Our findings indicate that preserving or restoring the cover of natural habitats above these minimum thresholds could be a valuable strategy for maintaining pollinator abundance and safeguarding yield in these bee-pollinated crops.