Pardo, A., Lopes, D.H., Fierro, N. & Borges, PA.V. (2020) Limited effect of management on apple insect pollination: a case study from an oceanic island.Insects, 11(6), 1-13. DOI:10.3390/insects11060351 (IF2018 2,139; Q1 Entomology)
Intensive agricultural practices leading to habitat degradation represent a major threat to pollinators. Diverse management practices are expected to influence wild pollinator abundance and richness on farms, although their effect in perennial crops is still unclear. In this study, we assessed the impact of management on apple (Malus domestica) pollination on an oceanic island, by comparing conventional (with and without herbicide application) and organic apple orchards. Pollinator visitation and pan trap surveys were carried out in six apple orchards in Terceira Island (Azores) and the landscape composition surrounding orchards was characterized. We also quantified fruit set, seed set and apple weight. We found no significant effect of management on insect visitation rates, whereas there was a negative association with increasing surrounding agricultural land. In contrast, management had an effect on species abundance, richness and diversity at the orchard level. Conventional orchards without herbicides showed higher abundance than the rest, but lower richness and diversity than conventional orchards with herbicides. Management had an effect on fruit set, but not on seed set or fruit weight. Our results suggest that management alone is insufficient for the overall improvement of apple pollination on an oceanic island, while landscape composition may play a relevant role.