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Ecological-economic modeling of pollination complexity and pesticide use in agricultural crops

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Journal of Bioeconomics Aims and scope


Recent years have witnessed a substantial decline of both managed and wild bees in Europe due to the increase of pesticides use. Hence, many European agricultural systems depend on the buy/rental of managed bees in order to maintain sufficient levels of pollination services. However, this substitution of wild bees by managed ones apart from costly may be also ineffective as managed bees are not perfect substitutes for wild ones. In fact, a plethora of ecological studies showed that the presence of both bee species in the field and their complementarity effect generates an enhanced pollination activity which optimizes production. This study tries to evaluate this effect by developing an analytical ecological-economic model displaying farmer’s decisions between two agricultural inputs, pollination services and pesticides. Our results highlight that the economic value of this complementarity may offer to farmers an alternative optimum management strategy. This strategy lies on the production range where managed bees are working together with wild ones, offering an enhanced pollination to the crop production. Moreover, we showed that the adoption of a less toxic pesticide or better application methods by the farmers should increase the wild bees’ productivity and consequently, the total economic value of pollinators.

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  1. For the numerical values of α we followed the article of Greenleaf & Kreman (2006), which showed that the presence of wild bees’ increases the pollination efficiency of managed ones up to 5 times. Having in mind this significant increase, we conservatively assumed that for medium levels of bees’ complementarity α = 1.1 and for high levels α=1.2.

  2. $$\Delta =\left(\frac{-\rm {ln}\overline{y}-\alpha \rm {ln}\left(-\frac{{c}_{B}l}{\alpha (-1+l)({c}_{C}k+rg\varphi {C}_{B})}\right)+l\alpha \rm {ln}\left(-\frac{{c}_{B}l}{\alpha (-1+l)({c}_{C}k+rg\varphi {C}_{B})}\right)l}{-l-\alpha +\alpha l}\right)$$


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We thank the University of Toulouse and the LEREPS laboratory. The authors would like to acknowledge the rest of their partners in the project for the use of collective unpublished data in this paper.


This study was carried out with financial support from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Formation de l'Enseignement Agricole de Toulouse-Auzeville (ENSFEA) and the Region of Occitanie.

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Kleftodimos, G., Gallai, N. & Kephaliacos, C. Ecological-economic modeling of pollination complexity and pesticide use in agricultural crops. J Bioecon 23, 297–323 (2021).

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