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Mass flowering crops enhance pollinator densities at a landscape scale




To counteract the decline of pollinators in Europe, conservation strategies traditionally focus on enhancing the local availability of semi-natural habitats, as supported by the European Union's Common Agriculture Policy. In contrast, we show that densities of bumblebees, an important pollinator group in agroecosystems, were not determined by the proportion of semi-natural habitats in agricultural landscapes. Instead, bumblebee densities were positively related to the availability of highly rewarding mass flowering crops (i.e. oilseed rape) in the landscape. In addition, mass flowering crops were only effective determinants of bumblebee densities when grown extensively at the landscape scale, but not at smaller local scales. Therefore, future conservation measures should consider the importance of mass flowering crops and the need for management schemes at landscape level to sustain vital pollination services in agroecosystems.