Garibaldi, L.A., Carvalheiro, L.G. & Vaissière, B. E. (2016) Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms.Science, 351(6271), 388-391. DOI:10.1126/science.aac7287 (IF2016 37,205; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Ecological intensification, or the improvement of crop yield through enhancement of biodiversity, may be a sustainable pathway toward greater food supplies. Such sustainable increases may be especially important for the 2 billion people reliant on small farms, many of which are undernourished, yet we know little about the efficacy of this approach. Using a coordinated protocol across regions and crops, we quantify to what degree enhancing pollinator density and richness can improve yields on 344 fields from 33 pollinator-dependent crop systems in small and large farms from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For fields less than 2 hectares, we found that yield gaps could be closed by a median of 24% through higher flower-visitor density. For larger fields, such benefits only occurred at high flower-visitor richness. Worldwide, our study demonstrates that ecological intensification can create synchronous biodiversity and yield outcomes.