, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 547-555
Date: 13 Feb 2009

Pollinator dispersal in an agricultural matrix: opposing responses of wild bees and hoverflies to landscape structure and distance from main habitat

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Abstract

Semi-natural habitats provide essential resources for pollinators within agricultural landscapes and may help maintain pollination services in agroecosystems. Yet, whether or not pollinators disperse from semi-natural habitat elements into the adjacent agricultural matrix may to a large extent depend on the quality of this matrix and the corresponding pollinator-specific life history traits. To investigate the effects of matrix quality on the distance decay of wild bees and hoverflies, six transects along vegetated field tracks originating at a large semi-natural main habitat and leading into the adjacent agricultural matrix were established in the Wetterau Region, central Hesse, Germany. Species richness of wild bees did not change with distance from the main habitat in landscapes with sufficient grassland cover in the surrounding landscape, but significantly declined when semi-natural grasslands where scarce and isolated in the adjacent agricultural matrix. Abundance of wild bees declined with distance regardless of matrix quality. Species richness of hoverflies did not decline with increasing distance in any landscape. Abundance even increased with distance to the main habitat independently of matrix quality. Thus, our data show that taxa of the pollinator guild may perceive landscapes quite differently. Because of their differing dispersal modes and resource requirements as compared to wild bees, hoverflies may play an important role in maintaining pollination services in agricultural landscapes unsuitable for bee species. Our results highlight the need for considering these taxon-specific differences when predicting the effect of landscape structure on pollinators.