The role of bee diversity in pollination and fruit set of yellow passion fruit (Passiflora edulis forma flavicarpa, Passifloraceae) crop in Central Brazil
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Pollination is an important ecosystem service, especially to self-sterile crops as passion fruit, which depends on the large solitary bee for fruit set. We estimated the species richness of pollinators of yellow passion fruit in Central Brazil and examined whether there was any association with crop yield. We recorded 27 bee species on passion fruit flowers in commercial orchards in the region, from 2004 to 2007. Some 17 species were classified as pollinators (12 as effective and 5 as occasional pollinators). Species richness and frequency of pollinators were positively correlated with reproductive efficacy. Hand pollination substantially increased average fruit set (from 23.3% to 69.8%). Our results indicated that, although native pollinators still maintain economically viable natural fruit set in the region, pollination can be sustained and even enhanced by promoting conservation and management of bee diversity.