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Save the bees - not the only show in town 2015-12-23

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In a significant study an international group of 52 researchers led by Romina Rader, including Brad Howlett and David Pattemore from Plant and Food, have reviewed 39 field studies from around the globe to look at the contribution pollinators other than bees make to crop pollination. 'Non-bee' visitors account for nearly 40% of visits and are very effective at achieving fruit set. The current obsessing about the value of bees ignores the importance of these pollinators, and this has profound implications for the way we manage our landscape, agricultural spaces and habitats. [I]"Wild and managed bees are well documented as effective pollinators of global crops of economic importance. However, the contributions by pollinators other than bees have been little explored despite their potential to contribute to crop production and stability in the face of environmental change. Non-bee pollinators include flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, wasps, ants, birds, and bats, among others. Here we focus on non-bee insects and synthesize 39 field studies from five continents that directly measured the crop pollination services provided by non-bees, honey bees, and other bees to compare the relative contributions of these taxa. Non-bees performed 25–50% of the total number of flower visits. Although non-bees were less effective pollinators than bees per flower visit, they made more visits; thus these two factors compensated for each other, resulting in pollination services rendered by non-bees that were similar to those provided by bees. In the subset of studies that measured fruit set, fruit set increased with non-bee insect visits independently of bee visitation rates, indicating that non-bee insects provide a unique benefit that is not provided by bees. We also show that non-bee insects are not as reliant as bees on the presence of remnant natural or seminatural habitat in the surrounding landscape. These results strongly suggest that non-bee insect pollinators play a significant role in global crop production and respond differently than bees to landscape structure, probably making their crop pollination services more robust to changes in land use. Non-bee insects provide a valuable service and provide potential insurance against bee population declines."[/I] [B]Romina Rader, (2015) Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Published online before print November 30, 2015, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1517092112 PNAS November 30, 2015 [/B] [URL]http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/24/1517092112.full.pdf[/URL]

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