Wild pollinator communities benefit from mixed cultivation of oilseed rape and milk vetch

Xiaoyu Shi, Jan Christoph Axmacher, Arong Luo, Changsheng Ma, Mingqiang Wang, Rui Cheng, Zeqing Niu, Qingsong Zhou, Yi Zou*, Chao Dong Zhu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Globally, insect pollinators that are linked to increased yields in many crops have experienced severe population declines. Crop diversification is often proposed as an effective conservation measure to boost pollinator populations. Here, we investigate the potential benefits of mixed oilseed rape/milk vetch cultivation for wild pollinator communities by comparing it with oilseed rape monocultures. Studying 8 mixed and 10 monocropping fields positioned along a gradient of increasing semi-natural habitat coverage in mountainous agricultural landscapes, we found that agricultural landscapes with mixed cultivation harboured higher wild pollinator diversity than oilseed rape monocropping landscapes. This positive effect was observed irrespective of the proportion of semi-natural habitat. Meanwhile, the pollinator community composition in mixed cultivation landscapes was similar to that of oilseed rape monoculture landscapes, and, contrary to expectations, mixed cultivation did not benefit specific pollinator trait groups like cavity-nesting bees. Overall, we believe the higher pollinator diversity linked to mixed cultivation can increase insect-pollinated crop yields, and mixed oilseed rape-milk vetch cultivation might represent a potential mitigation measure for the negative impacts agricultural intensification has on wild pollinator communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-975
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Entomology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • canola
  • crop diversification
  • pollinator conservation
  • pollinator diversity
  • wild bee


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