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The impact of an insecticide on insect flower visitation and pollination in an agricultural landscape

Authors

  • Claire Brittain,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Earley Gate, PO Box 237, Reading RG6 6AR, U.K.
      Claire Brittain. Tel.: +1 530 752 0475; fax: +1 530 752 1537; e-mail: claire.brittain@uni.leuphana.de
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    • Present address: Institute of Ecology and Environmental Chemistry, Ecosystem Functioning, Leuphana University of Lüneberg, Scharnhorststr, 1, 21335 Lüneberg, Germany.

  • Riccardo Bommarco,

    1. Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Box 7044, 750 07 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • Marco Vighi,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e del Territorio, Università di Milano Bicocca, Edificio U1, piazza della Scienza 1-20126 Milano, Italy
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  • Stefania Barmaz,

    1. Dipartimento di Scienze dell’Ambiente e del Territorio, Università di Milano Bicocca, Edificio U1, piazza della Scienza 1-20126 Milano, Italy
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  • Josef Settele,

    1. Department of Community Ecology, UFZ Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Str, 4, D-06120 Halle, Germany
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  • Simon G. Potts

    1. Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, University of Reading, Earley Gate, PO Box 237, Reading RG6 6AR, U.K.
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Claire Brittain. Tel.: +1 530 752 0475; fax: +1 530 752 1537; e-mail: claire.brittain@uni.leuphana.de

Abstract

  • 1Pesticides are considered a threat to pollinators but little is known about the potential impacts of their widespread use on pollinators. Less still is known about the impacts on pollination, comprising the ecosystem service that pollinators provide to wildflowers and crops.
  • 2The present study measured flower visitation and pollination in an agricultural landscape, by placing potted flowering plants (Petunia sp.) in vine fields sprayed with a highly toxic insecticide (fenitrothion). During two sampling rounds, insect visitors to the petunias were observed and measures of pollination were recorded by counting and weighing seeds.
  • 3In the earlier sampling round, a lower species richness of insect visitors was observed in fields that had received an early application of insecticide. No negative impacts were found from later applications. The results obtained suggest a greater potential harm to insect pollinators and flower visitation as a result of insecticide application early in the season.
  • 4No reduction in pollination was found in fields that received an early insecticide application. Pollination was greater with two insecticide applications between sampling rounds rather than one application.
  • 5In the present study system, insecticide application had a negative effect on pollinators but a possible positive effect on pollination services. In some cases, it may be that actions for conserving biodiversity will not benefit pollination services to all plants.
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