Impact of the “Farming With Alternative Pollinators” Approach on Crop Pollinator Pollen Diet

Published Date
March 24, 2022
Type
Journal Article
Impact of the “Farming With Alternative Pollinators” Approach on Crop Pollinator Pollen Diet
Authors:
Ahlam Sentil
Thomas J. Wood, Patrick Lhomme, Patrick Lhomme, Laila Hamroud, Laila Hamroud, Insafe El Abdouni, Insafe El Abdouni, Oumayma Ihsane, Oumayma Ihsane, Youssef Bencharki, Youssef Bencharki, Pierre Rasmont, Stefanie Christmann, Denis Michez

Pollinators are facing declines at a global level. One of the main factors driving this
decline is insufficient access to floral resources due to habitat loss and degradation
that can affect both diet generalist species as well as those with more restricted floral
preferences. Here we evaluated the effect of a novel mitigation strategy in agricultural
ecosystems, Farming with Alternative Pollinators (FAP) on the pollen diet of crop
pollinators. The approach dedicates 25% of the cropped area to Marketable Habitat
Enhancement Plants (MHEP) that attract pollinators, natural enemies of the crops, and
provide farmers with income. We assessed the effect of the approach on pollen diet of
faba bean (Vicia faba) and pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) flower visitors in four different
regions in Morocco during 2018 and 2019 by comparing control fields (monoculture)
and FAP fields in 13 trials and 101 sites. Results from 25 wild bee species show that
almost two-thirds of the species carrying or collecting pollen when visiting pumpkin
flowers and half of the species carrying or collecting pollen when visiting faba bean
flowers gathered this pollen from two or more host plants (i.e., MHEP, main crop, and/or
wild plants) and displayed a wide dietary breadth. Pollen grains from the main crops
were poorly represented on the female scopae, indicating that crops were mainly visited
for nectar. Hence, crop flower visitors may require alternative pollen sources to meet
their nutritional needs. The number of pollen genera collected by flower visitors and the
dietary breadth of crop flower visitors did not show a significant increase in response to
FAP management. Among the selected MHEP, sunflower (Helianthus annuus) was the
pollen resource for pumpkin flower visitors. In faba bean, flower visitors collected pollen
from coriander (Coriandrum sativum) and canola (Brassica napus). Our study sheds light
on the importance of characterizing the pollen diet and the foraging behavior of crop
pollinators to identify appropriate plant species that complement their food, maintain
and conserve their populations.

Citation:
Ahlam Sentil, Thomas J. Wood, Patrick Lhomme, Laila Hamroud, Insafe El Abdouni, Oumayma Ihsane, Youssef Bencharki, Pierre Rasmont, Stefanie Christmann, Denis Michez. (24/3/2022). Impact of the “Farming With Alternative Pollinators” Approach on Crop Pollinator Pollen Diet. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 10.
Keywords:
faba bean
pumpkin
wild bees
foraging behavior
nectar