Impacts of landscape on wild bee abundance and diversity in Ontario apple orchards: Lessons from a highly modified landscape

Ecology and Society
14:15, Friday 20 Dec 2019 (15 minutes)
Room AB
Apple is a strongly pollinator dependent crop with high economic value across North America. While managed honeybees are often used for pollination in apple orchards, research has increasingly begun to show the importance of wild pollinators to crop production. In many cropping systems across the world, wild pollinators can improve fruit set and yield regardless of visitation by honeybees. Diversity and abundance of wild bee populations is largely driven by unique, regionally specific landscape factors. However, although Ontario produces 40% of Canadian apples, no modern studies exist that investigate the status of wild pollinators in these orchards. Here, we report results from surveys of crop flower visitors conducted in 14 apple orchards across southern Ontario from 2018-2019. We use geospatial information obtained from provincial databases and high-resolution maps generated through this research to investigate how the abundance and diversity of wild bees are influenced by on-farm and surrounding landscape factors. We will focus on factors within a 1-km radius which initial results suggest are the most relevant in Ontario, largely due to a lack of substantial natural cover at larger scales. The highly modified landscape in which Ontario apple production occurs provides a contrast to the apple growing region in southern Quebec. Lessons learned from Ontario production practices will be discussed as Quebec considers the expansion of development into its southern range.

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