Understanding landscape structure for a sustainable pollination service in apple orchards

01 January 2017 → 31 December 2020
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Wild pollinators Semi-natural elements Apple cultivation
Project description

Insect pollination is an ecosystem service which is of vital importance for apple cultivation, one of
the key fruit sectors in Flanders. Pollination is required to ensure a constant and high quality apple
yield. While managed honeybees are often placed in orchards to serve as pollinators, their
numbers have been in decline over the past decade due to high winter mortality numbers.
Because of this, the demand for hives in apple orchards currently exceeds the availability. Wild
pollinators can play an important role in maintaining the pollination service but due to landscape
changes in the past decades, mainly habitat loss, their numbers have also declined drastically. In
this research project, we will assess how the landscape surrounding apple orchards influences wild
pollinator diversity and how this diversity can improve pollination services for an increased yield in
orchards. We will mainly focus on the presence of semi-natural elements and the spatial
arrangement of the landscape. Our main goal is to understand which landscape characteristics
affect pollinator diversity the most. This will allow us to understand how landscapes surrounding
orchards can be effectively managed to increase pollinator diversity in and around orchards and
ensure a sustainable and reliable pollination service for apple growers.