Meta-analysis reveals that pollinator functional diversity and abundance enhance crop pollination and yield

B. A. Woodcock*, M. P.D. Garratt, G. D. Powney, R. F. Shaw, J. L. Osborne, J. Soroka, S. A.M. Lindström, D. Stanley, P. Ouvrard, M. E. Edwards, F. Jauker, M. E. McCracken, Y. Zou, S. G. Potts, M. Rundlöf, J. A. Noriega, A. Greenop, H. G. Smith, R. Bommarco, W. van der WerfJ. C. Stout, I. Steffan-Dewenter, L. Morandin, J. M. Bullock, R. F. Pywell

*Corresponding author for this work

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How insects promote crop pollination remains poorly understood in terms of the contribution of functional trait differences between species. We used meta-analyses to test for correlations between community abundance, species richness and functional trait metrics with oilseed rape yield, a globally important crop. While overall abundance is consistently important in predicting yield, functional divergence between species traits also showed a positive correlation. This result supports the complementarity hypothesis that pollination function is maintained by non-overlapping trait distributions. In artificially constructed communities (mesocosms), species richness is positively correlated with yield, although this effect is not seen under field conditions. As traits of the dominant species do not predict yield above that attributed to the effect of abundance alone, we find no evidence in support of the mass ratio hypothesis. Management practices increasing not just pollinator abundance, but also functional divergence, could benefit oilseed rape agriculture.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1481
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019

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