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Pollinator abundance, not the richness, benefits from urban green spaces in intensive agricultural land

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In the debate on the impact of urbanisation on biodiversity, two characteristics of urbanisation have been identified that mainly determine the extent of the impact, namely the level of urbanisation and the landscape context. More recently, it has been theorised that urban sprawl in an intensive agricultural landscape has a positive influence on pollinators by increasing habitat and resource availability. Using the eastern Po Plain (north-eastern Italy) as a model system, we investigated the relationship between attributes of landscape composition and configuration, pollinator richness and visits in 39 randomly selected permanent plots. Contrary to expectations, we found no relationship between urban sprawl and pollinator species richness. Conversely, descriptors of urban sprawl such as landscape heterogeneity and the proportion of urban green spaces had a positive influence on the number of pollinator visits. This suggests that urban sprawl, when occurring in an intensive agricultural land, has a positive effect on the abundance of local pollinator populations, while it may not promote pollinator richness due to limited immigration opportunities in the matrix of intensive agricultural land. Our results emphasise the importance of urban green spaces in supporting pollinator communities, but also the need to improve the heterogeneity and permeability of the landscape matrix for biodiversity to enhance pollinator conservation in human-modified landscapes.

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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the authors upon reasonable request.


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This work was supported by EU in the framework of the European LIFE project LIFE19 IT/NAT/000848 PollinAction (


L.L, E.F., D.S. and G.B. were supported by the European LIFE project LIFE19 IT/NAT/000848 PollinAction ( S.F. was supported by PON “Ricerca e Innovazione” 2014–2020.

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L.L.: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis, Investigation, Data curation, Writing - Original Draft, Writing - Review & Editing, Visualization. E.F.: Conceptualization, Methodology, Software, Investigation, Writing - Review & Editing, Supervision. D.S.: Methodology, Investigation, Writing - Review & Editing. S.F.: Investigation, Writing - Review & Editing. G.B.: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing - Review & Editing, Supervision, Project administration, Funding acquisition.

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Correspondence to Edy Fantinato.

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Lorenzato, L., Fantinato, E., Sommaggio, D. et al. Pollinator abundance, not the richness, benefits from urban green spaces in intensive agricultural land. Urban Ecosyst (2024).

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