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Wild bees respond complementarily to ‘high-quality’ perennial and annual habitats of organic farms in a complex landscape

Pfiffner, Lukas; Ostermaier, Miriam; Stoeckli, Sibylle and Müller, Andreas (2018) Wild bees respond complementarily to ‘high-quality’ perennial and annual habitats of organic farms in a complex landscape. Journal of Insect Coservation, 2018, 22 (3-4), pp. 551-562.

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Document available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10841-018-0084-6


Agricultural intensification leads to large-scale loss of habitats offering food and nesting sites for bees. This has resulted in a severe decline of wild bee diversity and abundance during the past decades. There is an urgent need for cost-effective conservation measures to mitigate this decline. We analysed the impact of five different high-quality habitats on species richness and abundance of wild bees in a complex landscape of north-western Switzerland at six sites. The five habitat types included 45 plots situated on eight organic farms and were composed of 16 low-input meadows, six low-input pastures, seven herbaceous strips adjacent to hedges, five sown flower strips and eleven organic cereal fields. All of them are financially subsidised by the Swiss agri-environmental scheme. Wild bees were sampled between the end of April and end of August 2014 by using trio-pan traps and complementary sweep netting on these five habitat types. On 45 plots we recorded 3973 bee specimens, belonging to 91 species, 16 of which are red listed, revealing a high bee species richness in the study area. Wild bee species richness and abundance were best explained by habitat type, number of flowering plants and site. A strong relationship of increasing number of flowering plants and bee species richness and abundance was found. Grassland habitats, especially low-input meadows, harboured the highest species richness and abundances. Organic cereal fields showed a potential to conserve bee species relevant to nature conservation (harbouring exclusively two red list species and four rare species). Ordination analysis of the bee communities showed a relative dissimilarity between the habitat types and indicates their complementary effects to benefit the diversity of wild bees. Our results demonstrate that a matrix of low-input habitats are needed to sustain rich assemblages of wild bees in agroecosystems.

EPrint Type:Newspaper or magazine article
Keywords:Wild bees, Agri-environmental scheme, Biodiversity, Semi-natural habitats, Low-input habitats, Sustainable agriculture, Agroecology
Subjects: Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Crops > Crop protection > Entomology
Deposited By: Pfiffner, Dr. Lukas
ID Code:34503
Deposited On:14 Feb 2019 10:49
Last Modified:09 Dec 2020 07:38
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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