Delivery of crop pollination services is an insufficient argument for wild pollinator conservation

D. Kleijn, R. Winfree, D. Bartomeus, L.G. Carvalheiro, R. Bommarco, J. Scheper, T. Tscharntke, J. Verhulst, S.G. Potts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

369 Citations (Scopus)


There is compelling evidence that more diverse ecosystems deliver greater benefits to people, and these ecosystem services have become a key argument for biodiversity conservation. However, it is unclear how much biodiversity is needed to deliver ecosystem services in a cost-effective way. Here we show that, while the contribution of wild bees to crop production is significant, service delivery is restricted to a limited subset of all known bee species. Across crops, years and biogeographical regions, crop-visiting wild bee communities are dominated by a small number of common species, and threatened species are rarely observed on crops. Dominant crop pollinators persist under agricultural expansion and many are easily enhanced by simple conservation measures, suggesting that cost-effective management strategies to promote crop pollination should target a different set of species than management strategies to promote threatened bees. Conserving the biological diversity of bees therefore requires more than just ecosystem-service-based arguments.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7414
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • ecosystem services
  • native bees
  • biodiversity conservation
  • european countries
  • plant diversity
  • fruit-set
  • abundance
  • productivity
  • decline
  • pollen

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