Author(s): Garratt MP, Breeze TD, Boreux V, Fountain MT, McKerchar M,
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Abstract Insect pollination underpins apple production but the extent to which different pollinator guilds supply this service, particularly across different apple varieties, is unknown. Such information is essential if appropriate orchard management practices are to be targeted and proportional to the potential benefits pollinator species may provide. Here we use a novel combination of pollinator effectiveness assays (floral visit effectiveness), orchard field surveys (flower visitation rate) and pollinator dependence manipulations (pollinator exclusion experiments) to quantify the supply of pollination services provided by four different pollinator guilds to the production of four commercial varieties of apple. We show that not all pollinators are equally effective at pollinating apples, with hoverflies being less effective than solitary bees and bumblebees, and the relative abundance of different pollinator guilds visiting apple flowers of different varieties varies significantly. Based on this, the taxa specific economic benefits to UK apple production have been established. The contribution of insect pollinators to the economic output in all varieties was estimated to be £92.1M across the UK, with contributions varying widely across taxa: solitary bees (£51.4M), honeybees (£21.4M), bumblebees (£18.6M) and hoverflies (£0.7M). This research highlights the differences in the economic benefits of four insect pollinator guilds to four major apple varieties in the UK. This information is essential to underpin appropriate investment in pollination services management and provides a model that can be used in other entomolophilous crops to improve our understanding of crop pollination ecology.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research