Distance to semi-natural grassland influences seed production of insect-pollinated herbs
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Marginal grassland fragments, such as road verges and field margins, may act as important supplemental habitats for grassland plants in the modern agricultural landscape. However, abundance of pollinators in such fragments has been found to decline with distance to larger natural and semi-natural habitats, and this could have corresponding effects on plant pollination. In this study, we performed a field experiment on road verges with three insect-pollinated grassland herbs to examine the relationship between distance to semi-natural grassland and plant reproductive success in two landscapes with contrasting farming intensities. In Lychnis viscaria and Lotus corniculatus, seed production tended to decrease with increasing distance to semi-natural grassland, but only in the landscape with high farming intensity. Seed production in Armeria maritima spp. maritima decreased with distance in both landscapes. Although many studies have investigated effects of natural habitat on crop pollination, little is known about the impact on pollination in native plants. The results from this study indicate that management of semi-natural grasslands improves not only biodiversity within the actual grassland but also pollination of native plants in the surrounding agricultural landscape.
KeywordsFecundity Landscape Pollination service Self-incompatibility
Andreas Nyström and Emelie Hedlin provided excellent help in the field. We thank P. Börjesson and J. Ehrlén for statistical advice, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on the manuscript. The study was financed by a grant to A. Jakobsson from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning. The experiments comply with the current laws of Sweden in which the experiments were performed.
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