Forest conservation maximises açaí palm pollination services and yield in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Dec, 2023

Campbell, A.J., Da Silva e Silva, F.D., Maués, M.M., Leão, K.L., Carvalheiro, L.G., Moreira, E.F., Mertens, F., De Freitas Konrad, M.L., De Queiróz, J.L. & Menezes, C. (2023) Forest conservation maximises açaí palm pollination services and yield in the Brazilian Amazon.

Journal of Applied Ecology, 60(9), 1964-1976. DOI:10.1111/1365-2664.14460 (IF2022 5,7; Q1 Ecology)
  1. Agricultural expansion is one of the main drivers of global pollinator loss. Paradoxically, this occurs while agriculture is becoming increasingly dependent on biotic pollination, raising concerns about food production. Integrated Crop Pollination (ICP), the use of both wild and managed pollinators in crop fields, can help conserve pollinator diversity while ensuring effective pollination services for growers. However, given the context-dependent nature of this approach, there is an urgent need to evaluate its application across different landscapes and crops.
  2. We apply the ICP approach to açaí palm (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) production in the eastern Brazilian Amazon to explore effects of a native stingless bee, Scaptotrigona aff. postica (Apidae: Meliponini), and landscape-level forest conservation on yield and socioeconomic outcomes for açaí fruit growers. We assessed flower visitor assemblages and fruit production on 18 plantations across a landscape forest cover gradient, with bee colonies introduced on nine plantations. Field data were combined with information from semistructured interviews of growers to estimate yield and profit per hectare under different pollinator management scenarios.
  3. Bee colonies and forest cover enhanced flower visitor abundance on palm inflorescences, but abundance increases attributed to managed bees were associated with shifts in flower visitor evenness and diversity (species richness), due to reduced visitation of wild bees near managed colonies.
  4. Fruit production on inflorescences was positively related to bee abundance and bee diversity. Consequently, overall pollination performance was lower in plantations with bee colonies. This was repeated at the hectare scale, where yield and profit were associated with surrounding forest cover and not bee colonies.
  5. Synthesis and applications. Managed bees can increase pollinator densities and fruit production, but the increased environmental and socioeconomic risks associated with this activity means açaí growers should prioritise forest conservation to safeguard pollination services and improve overall sustainability of açaí production in the eastern Brazilian Amazon.


  • Forest conservation maximises açaí palm pollination services and yield in the Brazilian Amazon Luísa Gigante Carvalheiro Computational Biology and Population Genomics - CoBiG2