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The importance of small forest fragments for pollination services in agricultural landscapes

(2019)
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Abstract
Agricultural landscapes in North-Western Europe have undergone drastic changes since the second half of last century. Because of agricultural intensification, and associated changes in agricultural practices, productivity has strongly increased. However, this went along with a decline in biodiversity in farmland. In these intensively managed agricultural landscapes, small fragments of semi-natural habitat can play an important role in conservation of biodiversity. In many agro-landscapes, forests make up a big share of the total area of semi-natural habitat. These forests are, however, often very small and highly fragmented. Small forest patches and the biodiversity they harbour, deliver important ecosystem services to society. These services range from regulating services, such as nutrient cycling, hydrological regulation or biological pest control, to provisioning services, such as delivering food and wood, and cultural services, such as recreational and aesthetic services. Over the last few years, more research has been performed on the role these forest fragments play in enhancing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. However, the role these fragments play in providing pollination services, an important regulating ecosystem service, has barely been investigated. Pollination of wild plants and agricultural crops is in the temperate zone largely dependent on insects and plays an important economical and ecological role. However, several taxa of pollinators show a clear decline over the last decades, thus threatening this service. Small forest fragments may play an important role in conserving insect pollinators in these agricultural landscapes. Forest patches can provide both food sources, being nectar and pollen, and reproductive habitat. In this research, we looked at the role that local and landscape characteristics play in conserving and structuring the pollinator community. Furthermore, we investigated whether this resulted in an increase in pollination services. In our research, we focused on bees and hoverflies, two of the most important and best characterized pollinators. Based on our results, it is clear that small forest fragments containing suitable foraging and reproductive habitat harbour a rich and diverse pollinator community. Old forests with a rich herb layer can play an important role as foraging habitat and as refuges for forest-dependent hoverflies. Sun-exposed forest edges with high amounts of suitable nesting habitat for ground-nesting bees can also contribute to enhancing pollinator diversity and abundance. A diverse and abundant pollinator community will lead to a better provision of pollination services, both to agricultural crops and wild plants.
Keywords
Bees, Hoverflies, Pollinators, Agricultural intensification, Forest ecology

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Proesmans, Willem. 2019. “The Importance of Small Forest Fragments for Pollination Services in Agricultural Landscapes”. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering.
APA
Proesmans, W. (2019). The importance of small forest fragments for pollination services in agricultural landscapes. Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent, Belgium.
Vancouver
1.
Proesmans W. The importance of small forest fragments for pollination services in agricultural landscapes. [Ghent, Belgium]: Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering; 2019.
MLA
Proesmans, Willem. “The Importance of Small Forest Fragments for Pollination Services in Agricultural Landscapes.” 2019 : n. pag. Print.
@phdthesis{8605393,
  abstract     = {Agricultural landscapes in North-Western Europe have undergone drastic changes since the second half of last century. Because of agricultural intensification, and associated changes in agricultural practices, productivity has strongly increased. However, this went along with a decline in biodiversity in farmland. In these intensively managed agricultural landscapes, small fragments of semi-natural habitat can play an important role in conservation of biodiversity.
In many agro-landscapes, forests make up a big share of the total area of semi-natural habitat. These forests are, however, often very small and highly fragmented. Small forest patches and the biodiversity they harbour, deliver important ecosystem services to society. These services range from regulating services, such as nutrient cycling, hydrological regulation or biological pest control, to provisioning services, such as delivering food and wood, and cultural services, such as recreational and aesthetic services. Over the last few years, more research has been performed on the role these forest fragments play in enhancing ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. However, the role these fragments play in providing pollination services, an important regulating ecosystem service, has barely been investigated.
Pollination of wild plants and agricultural crops is in the temperate zone largely dependent on insects and plays an important economical and ecological role. However, several taxa of pollinators show a clear decline over the last decades, thus threatening this service. Small forest fragments may play an important role in conserving insect pollinators in these agricultural landscapes. Forest patches can provide both food sources, being nectar and pollen, and reproductive habitat. In this research, we looked at the role that local and landscape characteristics play in conserving and structuring the pollinator community. Furthermore, we investigated whether this resulted in an increase in pollination services. In our research, we focused on bees and hoverflies, two of the most important and best characterized pollinators.
Based on our results, it is clear that small forest fragments containing suitable foraging and reproductive habitat harbour a rich and diverse pollinator community. Old forests with a rich herb layer can play an important role as foraging habitat and as refuges for forest-dependent hoverflies. Sun-exposed forest edges with high amounts of suitable nesting habitat for ground-nesting bees can also contribute to enhancing pollinator diversity and abundance. A diverse and abundant pollinator community will lead to a better provision of pollination services, both to agricultural crops and wild plants.},
  author       = {Proesmans, Willem},
  isbn         = {9789463571784},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {152},
  publisher    = {Ghent University. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering},
  school       = {Ghent University},
  title        = {The importance of small forest fragments for pollination services in agricultural landscapes},
  year         = {2019},
}