Picanço, A., Gil. A., Rigal, F. & Borges, P.A.V. (2017) Pollination services mapping and economic valuation from insect communities: a case study in the Azores (Terceira Island).Nature Conservation, 18, 1-25. DOI:10.3897/natureconservation.18.11523 (IF2017 1,367; Q3 Biodiversity Conservaton)
Insect pollinators provide vital ecosystem services through its maintenance of plant biological diversity and its role in food production. Indeed, adequate pollination services can increase the production and quality of fruit and vegetable crops. This service is currently challenged by land use intensification and expanding human population growth. Hence, this study aims: (1) to assess the pollination services in different land uses with different levels of disturbance through GIS mapping technique using insect pollinators abundance and richness as indicators, and (2) estimate the economic value of pollination by insects in agricultural crops. Our study takes place in a small oceanic Island, Terceira (Azores, Portugal). Our results showed, remarkably, that not only the pristine vegetation areas, but also the orchards and agricultural areas have relatively high values of pollination services, even though both land uses have opposite disturbance levels. For the economic valuation, we analyzed 24 crops in the island and found that 18 depend on pollinators with one-third of these crops having 65% or 95% dependence on pollinators. The economic contribution of pollinators totals 36.2% of the total mean annual agricultural income of the dependent crops, highlighting the importance of insect pollinators in agricultural production and consequent economic gain productions.