Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence without a parallel increase in crop diversification
AIZEN, MARCELO A.; AGUIAR, SEBASTIÁN; BIESMEIJER, JACOBUS C.; GARIBALDI, LUCAS A.; INOUYE, DAVID W.; JUNG, CHULEUI; MARTINS, DINO J.; MEDEL, RODRIGO; MORALES, CAROLINA L.; NGO, HIEN; PAUW, ANTON; PAXTON, ROBERT J.; SÁEZ, AGUSTÍN; SEYMOUR, COLLEEN L.
GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY
WILEY-BLACKWELL PUBLISHING, INC
Año: 2019 vol. 25 p. 3516 - 3527
The global increase in the proportion of land cultivated with pollinator-dependent crops implies increased reliance on pollination services. Yet agricultural practices themselves can profoundly affect pollinator supply and pollination. Extensive monocultures are associated with a limited pollinator supply and reduced pollination, whereas agricultural diversification can enhance both. Therefore, areas where agricultural diversity has increased, or at least been maintained, may better sustain high and more stable productivity of pollinator-dependent crops. Given that >80% of all crops depend, to varying extents, on insect pollination, a global increase in agricultural pollinator dependence over recent decades might have led to a concomitant increase in agricultural diversification. We evaluated whether an increase in the area of pollinator-dependent crops has indeed been associated with an increase in agricultural diversity, measured here as crop diversity, at the global, regional, and country scales for the period 1961?2016. Globally, results show a relatively weak and decelerating rise in agricultural diversity over time that was largely decoupled from the strong and continually increasing trend in agricultural dependency on pollinators. At regional and country levels, there was no consistent relationship between temporal changes in pollinator dependence and crop diversification. Instead, our results show heterogeneous responses in which increasing pollinator dependence for some countries and regions has been associated with either an increase or a decrease in agricultural diversity. Particularly worrisome is a rapid expansion of pollinator-dependent oilseed crops in several countries of the Americas and Asia that has resulted in a decrease in agricultural diversity. In these regions, reliance on pollinators is increasing, yet agricultural practices that undermine pollination services are expanding. Our analysis has thereby identified world regions of particular concern where environmentally damaging practices associated with large-scale, industrial agriculture threaten key ecosystem services that underlie productivity, in addition to other benefits provided by biodiversity.