Special Issue "Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems"

A special issue of Insects (ISSN 2075-4450). This special issue belongs to the section "Insect Ecology, Diversity and Conservation".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Michelle T. Fountain
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
NIAB EMR, Pest and Pathology Ecology Department, NIAB EMR, New Road, East Malling, Kent, ME19 6BJ, U.K.
Interests: fruit crops; integrated crop management; pests; biocontrol; conservation biocontrol; pollinators; fruit quality; ecology; environmental protection; pesticides; natural enemies; yields
Prof. Dr. Ignazio Floris
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Università degli Studi di Sassari, Sassari, Italy
Interests: apidology; microbial control of insect pests

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Pollinating insects are an essential component of production in flowering crops. Pollinators not only improve yields, but also enhance crop quality. However, other than the provision of managed honeybees and bumblebees, management and conservation of wild bees are not often considered as part of routine crop management. This may partly be because gradual declines in wild pollinators has not been realised through crop losses over the longer term, but also because evidence for key pollinator species of many crops is only just becoming evident. Key pollinators differ between crops and between cropping regions. Therefore, it is essential that the basic biology, ecology, and habitat requirements of these insects and their interactions with crops and surrounding habitats are understood to inform and adjust management practices in order to improve targeted insect pollinator diversity and sustainable crop production.

Dr. Michelle T. Fountain
Prof. Dr. Ignazio Floris
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Insects is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • horticulture
  • agriculture
  • wild bees
  • solitary bees
  • honeybees
  • bumblebees
  • Diptera
  • flies
  • hoverflies
  • yield
  • quality
  • seeds
  • habitat
  • management
  • species richness
  • diversity
  • sustainability
  • crop production

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Article
Comparative Efficiency of Native Insect Pollinators in Reproductive Performance of Medicago sativa L. in Pakistan
Insects 2021, 12(11), 1029; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12111029 - 15 Nov 2021
Viewed by 298
Abstract
Lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) is a cross-pollinated crop and requires entomophilous pollination for tripping of flowers and subsequent pod and seed set. To discover the best pollinators for lucerne seed production, a two-year field trial was carried out at the research farm [...] Read more.
Lucerne (Medicago sativa L.) is a cross-pollinated crop and requires entomophilous pollination for tripping of flowers and subsequent pod and seed set. To discover the best pollinators for lucerne seed production, a two-year field trial was carried out at the research farm of MNS University of Agriculture, Multan, Pakistan. Abundance and diversity of insect pollinators along with the foraging behavior were recorded in terms of tripping efficiency, stay time, visitation rate and pollen harvest. The single-visit efficiency of abundant insect pollinators was also evaluated in terms of number of seeds and seed weight per raceme along with germination percentage. Ten most abundant floral visitors (five solitary bee species, three honeybee species and two syrphid fly species) were tested for their pollination efficiency. Honeybees were most abundant in both the years followed by the solitary bees and syrphid flies. Single-visit efficacy in terms of number of pods per raceme, number of seeds per raceme, 1000 seed weight and germination percentage revealed Megachile cephalotes as the most efficient insect pollinator followed by Megachile hera and Amegilla sp. Future studies should investigate the biology and ecology of these bee species with special emphasis on their nesting behavior and seasonality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Article
Crop and Semi-Natural Habitat Configuration Affects Diversity and Abundance of Native Bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) in a Large-Field Cotton Agroecosystem
Insects 2021, 12(7), 601; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070601 - 01 Jul 2021
Viewed by 604
Abstract
The cotton agroecosystem is one of the most intensely managed, economically and culturally important fiber crops worldwide, including in the United States of America (U.S.), China, India, Pakistan, and Brazil. The composition and configuration of crop species and semi-natural habitat can have significant [...] Read more.
The cotton agroecosystem is one of the most intensely managed, economically and culturally important fiber crops worldwide, including in the United States of America (U.S.), China, India, Pakistan, and Brazil. The composition and configuration of crop species and semi-natural habitat can have significant effects on ecosystem services such as pollination. Here, we investigated the local-scale effect of crop and semi-natural habitat configuration in a large field (>200 ha in size) cotton agroecosystem on the diversity and abundance of native bees. The interfaces sampled included cotton grown next to cotton, sorghum or semi-natural habitat along with a natural habitat comparator. Collections of native bees across interface types revealed 32 species in 13 genera across 3 families. Average species richness metrics ranged between 20.5 and 30.5, with the highest (30.5) at the interface of cotton and semi-natural habitat. The most abundant species was Melissodes tepaneca Cresson (>4000 individuals, ~75% of bees collected) with a higher number of individuals found in all cotton–crop interfaces compared to the cotton interface with semi-natural habitat or natural habitat alone. It was also found that interface type had a significant effect on the native bee communities. Communities of native bees in the cotton–crop interfaces tended to be more consistent in species richness and abundance. While cotton grown next to semi-natural habitat had higher species richness, the number of bees collected varied. These data suggest that native bee communities persist in large-field cotton agroecosystems. Selected species dominate (i.e., M. tepaneca) and thrive in this large-field cotton system where cotton–crop interfaces are key local landscape features. These data have implications for potential pollination benefits to cotton production. The findings also contribute to a discussion regarding the role of large-field commercial cotton growing systems in conserving native bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Article
Complementary Contribution of Wild Bumblebees and Managed Honeybee to the Pollination Niche of an Introduced Blueberry Crop
Insects 2021, 12(7), 595; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12070595 - 30 Jun 2021
Viewed by 770
Abstract
The entomophilous pollination niche (abundance, phenotypic traits, foraging behaviours and environmental tolerances of insect pollinators) helps to understand and better manage crop pollination. We apply this niche approach to assess how an entomophilous crop (blueberry, Vaccinium ashei) can be expanded into new [...] Read more.
The entomophilous pollination niche (abundance, phenotypic traits, foraging behaviours and environmental tolerances of insect pollinators) helps to understand and better manage crop pollination. We apply this niche approach to assess how an entomophilous crop (blueberry, Vaccinium ashei) can be expanded into new territories (i.e., northern Spain) far from their original area of domestication (North America). Insect visits to blueberry flowers were monitored in a plantation on 12 different days, at 8 different times during day and covering various weather conditions. Abundance, visitation rate, pollen gathering behaviour, and frequency of inter-plant and inter-row movements were recorded. The pollinator assemblage was basically composed of one managed honeybee species (50.8% of visits) and three native bumblebee species (48.3%). There was a marked pattern of seasonal segregation throughout bloom, with bumblebees dominating the early bloom and honeybee the late bloom. Pollinators also segregated along gradients of daily temperature and relative humidity. Finally, the two pollinator types differed in foraging behaviour, with bumblebees having a visitation rate double that of honeybee, collecting pollen more frequently and changing plant and row more frequently. The spatio-temporal and functional complementarity between honeybee and bumblebees suggested here encourages the consideration of an integrated crop pollination strategy for blueberries, based on the concurrence of both wild and managed bees. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Review

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Review
Overview of Bee Pollination and Its Economic Value for Crop Production
Insects 2021, 12(8), 688; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12080688 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1260
Abstract
Pollination plays a significant role in the agriculture sector and serves as a basic pillar for crop production. Plants depend on vectors to move pollen, which can include water, wind, and animal pollinators like bats, moths, hoverflies, birds, bees, butterflies, wasps, thrips, and [...] Read more.
Pollination plays a significant role in the agriculture sector and serves as a basic pillar for crop production. Plants depend on vectors to move pollen, which can include water, wind, and animal pollinators like bats, moths, hoverflies, birds, bees, butterflies, wasps, thrips, and beetles. Cultivated plants are typically pollinated by animals. Animal-based pollination contributes to 30% of global food production, and bee-pollinated crops contribute to approximately one-third of the total human dietary supply. Bees are considered significant pollinators due to their effectiveness and wide availability. Bee pollination provides excellent value to crop quality and quantity, improving global economic and dietary outcomes. This review highlights the role played by bee pollination, which influences the economy, and enlists the different types of bees and other insects associated with pollination. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Other

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Brief Report
Where Is the Honey Bee Queen Flying? The Original Case of a Foraging Queen
Insects 2021, 12(11), 1035; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12111035 - 17 Nov 2021
Viewed by 482
Abstract
During a bee fauna survey in the countryside of northern Sardinia, a honey bee queen (Apis mellifera L.) was detected while foraging on a borage (Borago officinalis L.) flower in Uri, Province of Sassari, Italy, most likely during an orientation flight [...] Read more.
During a bee fauna survey in the countryside of northern Sardinia, a honey bee queen (Apis mellifera L.) was detected while foraging on a borage (Borago officinalis L.) flower in Uri, Province of Sassari, Italy, most likely during an orientation flight before mating. Morphological details, detectable from photos with the naked eye and stereomicroscopic observations, confirmed that the honey bee queen was sucking nectar from a flower. The enormous development of the abdomen, lack of pollen-collecting structures in the legs and other characteristics such as the typical distally bilobed shape of the mandibles, with long hairs on their outer surface, proved the structural differences between the queen specimen and the other castes of bees. The queen’s proboscis, which is shorter compared to the workers, may have been counterbalanced by the shape and nectar production of the borage flower. This new observation proves that the queen can feed herself under natural conditions, likely to obtain the energy required for flying. Although we cannot exclude disturbing factors that could explain this foraging behaviour of a queen observed for the first time, this note opens a new scenario and discusses this new finding in the context of the available literature on the queen’s behaviour and questions to be answered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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Case Report
Towards Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management in Intensive Pear Cultivation: A Case Study from Belgium
Insects 2021, 12(10), 901; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects12100901 - 02 Oct 2021
Viewed by 593
Abstract
Recently, the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was further extended into Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM). Implementation of IPPM strategies entails the combination of actions for pest and pollinator management providing complementary or synergistic benefits for yield and/or quality of the [...] Read more.
Recently, the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) was further extended into Integrated Pest and Pollinator Management (IPPM). Implementation of IPPM strategies entails the combination of actions for pest and pollinator management providing complementary or synergistic benefits for yield and/or quality of the harvest. The aim of this study was to examine IPPM elements (i.e., mixed hedgerow, nesting boxes for mason bees, Osmia spp.) and demonstrate their impact in the practical context of modern commercial fruit cultivation in a 4-year case study in an intensive ‘Conference’ pear orchard. The outcomes of visual observations during transect walks and molecular analysis of pollen collected by mason bees, showed the importance of additional floral resources for the presence of mason bees and other pollinating insects in the orchard environment. Pear quality assessments indicated that insect-mediated pollination had a significant positive impact, with a tendency for higher quality pears in the close vicinity of Osmia nesting boxes. However, despite the fact that pear pollen was also detected in Osmia spp. nest cells, the amount and frequency of pear pollen collection for their nest built-up turned out to be rather low. In the same intensive pear orchard studied for pollination effects, we simultaneously demonstrate the impact of a mixed hedgerow to enhance integrated pest control. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Pollinator Diversity in Sustainable Agroecosystems)
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