New publications: Landscape complexity and multifunctionality

Two new publications from our team. These discuss multifunctionality from different perspective. First how ecological and social science can perceive multifunctionality a bit different and how different ecological functions could produce a cascading effect on different ecosystem services. The second treats how landscape complexity can affect multidiversity and multifunctionality differently.

In the first article, “Ignoring Ecosystem-Service Cascades Undermines Policy for Multifunctional Agricultural Landscapes,”1 we discuss whether the lack of efficiency in many of the agro-environmental schemes can be attributed to that they do not take into account the cascading nature of ecosystem service. Ecosystem services can be divided into two groups; intermediate and final. Intermediate services are those that not directly result in a tangible benefit to humans. These can be for example pollination, biological control and recycling of nutrients. The final services are those that directly can be used by humans, such as production of fruits, clean water, and wood. There are other classification of ecosystem services that perhaps are more often used, such as those defined in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.2 The agro-environmental schemes use different measures to mitigate environmental harm or improve the ecosystem functions in some way. If we can understand how multiple final ecosystem services are benefited by measures, either directly or through multiple or single intermediate ecosystem services, measures can be identified that simultaneously can benefit private and public goods. Even if solutions with measures that benefits both public and private goods are less efficient in terms of promoting yields compared to other solutions, policies to promote them may be cost-efficient since the private benefit reduces the need for public payment. Furthermore, by understanding the ecosystem service cascade, we can avoid mismatches and misunderstandings between social and ecological definitions of multifunctionality, which can hamper the implementation of synergistic solutions.

The second article, “Relationships between multiple biodiversity components and ecosystem services along a landscape complexity gradient,”3 is more empirical where we test how eight ecosystem service potentials relate to species richness of different organism groups in cereal farming systems. These farming systems were situated along a gradient of landscape complexity. We showed that in these systems multidiversity (overall biodiversity), was positively related to landscape complexity, whereas multifunctionality (overall ecosystem service provision), was not significantly related to either one of these, even if some ecosystem services where. These results challenge the assumption that bio- diversity-friendly landscape management will always simultaneously promote multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes. Therefore we need measures that both are tailored to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services and that these can be different. Future studies need to also use multi-year data, more and different types of ecosystem services and organism groups at larger spatial scales.


Read more:

1. Nilsson, L., Andersson, G.K.S, Birkhofer, K., & Smith, H. G., 2017, Ignoring Ecosystem-Service Cascades Undermines Policy for Multifunctional Agricultural Landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 5:109

2. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005, Synthesis report, Island Press, Washington, DC.

3. Birkhofer, K., Andersson, G.K.S., Bengtsson, J., Bommarco, R., Dänhardt, J., Ekbom, B. et al., 2018, Relationships between multiple biodiversity components and ecosystem services along a landscape complexity gradient. Biological Conservation. 218:247-253

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New Publication: Integrated pollination management

Recently I co-authored a publication in Current Opinion in Insect Science with the title “Towards an integrated species and habitat management of crop pollination.1 It is an opinion paper and our opinion was that we need a to integrate the two most common ways of managing pollination services in crops. One is the use of managed bees, such as honeybees (Apis spp.) and bumblebees (Bombus spp.), usually by saturation of the crop area. The other being conservation and management, sometimes even addition, of flower resources and semi-natural vegetation surrounding the crop, to benefit pollinating insects and their habitats.

The benefit of integrating the two management approaches is that it accounts for the benefits and costs of both approaches. This is lacking in current system where either only one management type is considered or the two is not thought of to affect each other. For example, the costs of having large populations of e.g. honeybees in an area can be competition and spread of diseases to wild pollinators. This can more easy be managed the two approaches are integrated.

A high pollinator abundance and diversity can benefit crop yield but also benefits beyond the crop pollination. For example pollination services to the surrounding landscape which can be important for wild flowers and berries. These pollination services can be provided by both the wild and managed bees. However, while the individual manager experience the costs, the benefits may be distributed beyond the farm to neighbours who did not change their practices. This makes it necessary to take more of a landscape approach for managing pollination services and their costs and benefits to the farmer and society as a whole. Furthermore, perhaps intergrate the benefits to the larger society in the compensation to farmers for their pollinations management.


Read more:

1. Garibaldi L.A., Requier F., Rollin O., Andersson G. K. S., 2017, Towards and integrated species and habitat management of crop pollination. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 21:xx-yy

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New Publication: Linking ponds and pollination

In some countries, including Sweden, you can get support to add a pond in arable fields, which can benefit for example nutrient retention and biodiversity. However, it is not well known whether these ponds possibly also enhance pollination services in nearby crops. We evaluated this in a study on both pollinator diversity and pollination potential near ponds compared to plots with semi-natural vegetation without ponds and plots with neither vegetation nor ponds, the controls. The result can be read in a new paper in Basic and Applied Ecology1

In cereal fields we put pots with strawberries close to either ponds with semi-natural vegetation, only semi-natural vegetation or neither of them. In each of these plots we measured diversity and abundance of pollinators, and pollination, in terms of both quantity and quality of strawberries. In summary the ponds did have an positive effect on the abundance on some pollinator groups, such as hoverflies, compared to both control and only semi-natural vegetation. Furthermore, the pond and semi-natural vegetation both had an positive effect on diversity and abundance on bees and hoverflies, as well as on the quantity and quality of nearby strawberries.

Future studies should further evaluate the effect of the pond in itself and the mechanisms of the effects. Our study showed that ponds with its associated vegetation can benefit both public interests in form of biodiversity conservation and benefited farmers in form of crop pollination potentials.


Read more:

1. Stewart R.I., Andersson G.K.S, Brönmark C., Klatt B.K., Hansson L.A., Zülsdorff V., and Smith H.G., 2016, Ecosystem services across the aquatic–terrestrial boundary: Linking ponds to pollination, Basic and Applied Ecology, In Press

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New publication: Multiple-scale land sparing

Some of my colleagues from Lund and I just published a new paper in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution on what we call multiple scale sparing to widen the, often heated, debate on land sharing versus land sparing1

There is an ongoing debate on whether we should devote specific areas of non-crop habitats to conservation, segregated from high-yielding farmland, “land sparing”, or implement farming practices that integrate biodiversity and promote other services than crop yield “land sharing”. In our paper we argue that the debate over the relative merits of land sparing and land sharing is confused because the spatial scales to apply the land sparing or sharing differ widely in the debate. There might not be a single correct spatial scale for segregating biodiversity protection and commodity production in multifunctional landscapes.
In the article we discuss how this way of thinking on land sparing/sharing may overcome the apparent dichotomy between land sharing and land sparing. Hopefully, it can aid in finding acceptable compromises that conserve biodiversity and landscape multifunctionality.

Read more here:

1. Ekroos J, Ödman AM, Andersson GKS, Birkhofer K, Herbertsson L, Klatt BK, Olsson O, Olsson PA, Persson AS, Prentice HC, Rundlöf M and Smith HG, 2015, Sparing Land for Biodiversity at Multiple Spatial Scales. Front. Ecol. Evol. 3:145

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New publication; importance of non-bees

Recently our new publication on the importance of non-bee insects for crop pollination around the world was published online at PNAS.


We found that other insects than bees also are important for the pollination of crops. Examples of these non-bee pollinators are insects such as flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps and ants. Non-bee pollinators were less effective than bees per flower visit however, they provided more visits.

As these other insects responds a bit different to e.g land-use changes than bees do, they can perhaps stabilize the pollinations service under environmental change.

As it is open access you can both read the abstract and download pdf here:

Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination


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