Effects of landscape complexity on pollinators are moderated by pollinators' association with mass-flowering crops

Thijs P.M. Fijen*, Jeroen A. Scheper, Bastiaen Boekelo, Ivo Raemakers, David Kleijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Conserving and restoring semi-natural habitat, i.e. enhancing landscape complexity, is one of the main strategies to mitigate pollinator decline in agricultural landscapes. However, we still have limited understanding of how landscape complexity shapes pollinator communities in both crop and non-crop habitat, and whether pollinator responses to landscape complexity vary with their association with mass-flowering crops. Here, we surveyed pollinator communities on mass-flowering leek crops and in nearby semi-natural habitat in landscapes of varying complexity. Surveys were done before and during crop bloom and distinguished between pollinators that visit the crop frequently (dominant), occasionally (opportunistic), or not at all (non-crop). Forty-seven per cent of the species in the wider landscape were also observed on leek flowers. Crop pollinator richness increased with local pollinator community size and increasing landscape complexity, but relationships were stronger for opportunistic than for dominant crop pollinators. Relationships between pollinator richness in semi-natural habitats and landscape complexity differed between groups with the most pronounced positive effects on non-crop pollinators. Our results indicate that while dominant crop pollinators are core components of crop pollinator communities in all agricultural landscapes, opportunistic crop pollinators largely determine species-richness responses and complex landscapes are local hotspots for both biodiversity conservation and potential ecosystem service provision.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings. Biological sciences
Issue number1900
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


  • crop pollinator species pool
  • dominant crop pollinators
  • landscape complexity
  • local pollinator species pool
  • non-crop pollinators
  • opportunistic crop pollinators


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