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Title: Valuing wild pollinators for sustainable crop production
Author: Ellis, Ciaran R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 5247
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis looks at the role of wild pollinators in providing services to crops. Two data chapters (2 and 3) are accompanied by a modelling chapter (4) which build on the findings of the field studies. The thesis ends with an overview of the trends in pollinator populations and how these relate to the needs of farmers in the UK (chap-ter 5). It is often assumed that commercial pollinators are appropriate substitutes of wild pollinators on farms; however this view neglects the differing roles that particular pollinator taxa might play in providing pollination services. For example, crops with a long growing system may require multiple pollinators to ensure pollination throughout the season. Strawberries in Scotland have an extremely long growing season, flowering from April to August. Chapter 2 presents a study showing season-al complementarity between different pollinating taxa across strawberry farms in Scotland. Pollinators of strawberries also differed in their responses to weather pa-rameters indicating that preserving multiple pollinator taxa could ensure yields un-der different weather scenarios. The requirements of a long-growing season and ad-verse weather may be specific to strawberry production in Scotland, but the valua-tion of multiple taxa can be generalised to systems with differing needs, and also to different ecosystem services. Wild bees are not only valuable for providing complementary services to commercial pollinators, but are also valuable in the longer term as it is unknown whether com-mercial pollinators will be available in the future. There are threats to the supply of honeybees which have already triggered price rises; such supply shocks could force farmers to leave production or to seek other ways of providing pollination, including supporting wild pollinators. However farm management pressures, in particular pes-ticide use, could threaten the ability of wild pollinators to continue to support crop production. The interplay of pesticides and pollination is discussed in chapter 3 and 4. Chapter 3 presents an experiment undertaken on soft-fruit farms which had and had not used the neonicotinoid, thiacloprid, and shows that nests exposed to thia-cloprid had higher worker mortality, and lower male production than those at con-trol farms. This has implications both for pollination services now, as worker mor-tality will reduce the number of bees visiting farms, and also for the maintenance of future pollination services through decreased reproductive capacity of exposed nests. Chapter 4 uses a theoretical model to link pesticide use and habitat use to pollina-tion services, and shows that the use of commercial pollinators could mask the de-cline in wild populations, making local extinctions more likely. Chapter 5 sets out the status and extent of pollinators in the UK, along with popu-lation trends, trends in habitat and trends in pesticide use to provide an overview of how well pollination services are likely to meet the ongoing needs of crop farmers.
Supervisor: Goulson, Dave; Hanley, Nick D.; Park, Kirsty; Kleczkowski, Adam; De Vries, Frans P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Pollination ; Bees ; Environmental valuation ; Biodiversity ; Sustainable agriculture--Economic aspects ; Biodiversity--Economic aspects ; Pollination by insects ; Bee culture--Economic aspects