2022 journal article

Evaluating the impact of increased pollinator habitat on bee visitation and yield metrics in soybean crops


By: H. Levenson n, A. Sharp n & D. Tarpy n

author keywords: Agroecosystems; Bee communities; Increased yield; Pollination; Pollinator habitat; Soybean
Source: Web Of Science
Added: May 16, 2022

Agricultural intensification has significantly altered ecosystem functioning and aided in the reduction of global biodiversity. While agriculture requires increased reliance on animal pollination, pollinator populations have declined. To combat this, adding pollinator habitat into agricultural landscapes is increasingly common, but many questions remain about its functionality and impact on agroecosystems, particularly in pollinator-independent crops. Our study uses pollinator habitats planted on experimental research stations in the southeastern USA to evaluate their impact on pollinator communities within a nearby cropping system (soybeans) and the resulting yield. We found the species composition of pollinator communities within the habitat to be significantly different than the communities in soybeans. Even still, we identified more than 30 bee species visiting soybean flowers and verified that a subset of these species had actively collected soybean pollen. Bees from soybean fields planted adjacent to the habitat had more habitat pollen types present, while some species had more non-habitat types present when in the negative control sites. The presence of habitat had a positive effect on some yield measurements with adjacent soybean sites having 6.52% heavier seeds per plant on average. These findings demonstrate that pollinator habitat can be an important resource for supporting pollinators and highlights the importance of considering pollinator habitat in pollinator-independent crops, as they may still benefit from and be attractive to pollinator communities. • We investigated effects of pollinator habitat in a putative pollinator-independent crop. • Bee communities differ between soybean fields and pollinator habitat. • Bees visiting soybean flowers collected soybean pollen. • Bees in soybean fields far from pollinator habitat gathered more environmental pollen. • Seed weight increased in soybean fields planted near pollinator habitat.