Hedgerow restoration promotes pollinator populations and exports native bees to adjacent fields

Authors


  • Corresponding Editor: A. K. Brody.

Abstract

In intensive agricultural landscapes, restoration within farms could enhance biodiversity and ecosystem services such as pollination by native pollinators. Although governments and conservation groups are promoting small-scale restoration on working farms, there are few studies that assess whether these practices enhance pollinator communities in restored areas. Further, there is no information on whether floral enhancements will deplete pollinators in adjacent fields by concentrating ambient populations or whether they result in a net increase in abundance in adjacent farm fields. We investigated whether field edges restored with native perennial plants in California's Central Valley agricultural region increased floral abundance and potential bee nesting sites, and native bee and syrphid fly abundance and diversity, in comparison to relatively unmanaged edges. Native bees and syrphid flies collected from flowers were more abundant, species-rich, and diverse at hedgerow sites than in weedy, unmanaged edges. Abundance of bees collected passively in pan traps was negatively correlated with floral abundance, was significantly different from communities captured by net sampling from flowers, and did not distinguish between site types; we therefore focused on the results of net samples and visual observations. Uncommon species of native bees were sevenfold more abundant on hedgerow flowers than on flowers at weedy, unmanaged edges. Of the species on flowers at hedgerows, 40% were exclusive to hedgerow sites, but there were no species exclusively found on flowers at control sites. Hedgerows were especially important for supporting less-common species of native bees in our intensive agricultural landscape. Hedgerows did not concentrate ambient native bee, honey bee, or syphid fly populations, and they acted as net exporters of native bees into adjacent fields. Within-farm habitat restoration such as hedgerow creation may be essential for enhancing native pollinator abundance and diversity, and for pollination services to adjacent crops.

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