MORALES Carolina Laura
"The costs and benefits of pollinator dependence: empirically-based simulations predict raspberry fruit quality"
SAEZ AGUSTÍN; MORALES JUAN MANUEL; MORALES CAROLINA LAURA; HARDER LAWRENCE; AIZEN MARCELO A.
ECOLOGICAL SOC AMER
Globally, agriculture increasingly depends on pollinators to produce many seeds and fruit crops. However, what constitutes optimal pollination service for pollinator-dependent crops remains unanswered. We developed a simulation model to identify the optimal pollination service that maximizes fruit quality in crops. The model depicts the pollination (i.e. autonomous self-fertilization, pollen deposition) and post-pollination (i.e. pollen germination and time from germination to ovule fertilization) processes leading to fruit and seed set and allows for negative flower-pollinator interactions, specifically pistil damage. We parameterized and validated the model based on empirical observations of pollination of commercial raspberry in western Argentina. To assess the effects of pollination intensity on fruit production, we conducted simulations over a range of visits number per flower by the two primary managed pollinators worldwide, Apis mellifera and Bombus terrestris. Simulations identified that ~15-35 visits per flower by A. mellifera or ~10-20 visits by B. terrestris provide adequate pollination and maximize raspberry fruit quality. Visits in excess of these optima reduce simulated fruit quality, and flowers receiving > 670 honeybee visits or > 470 bumble-bee visits would produce fruits of poorer quality than those receiving no bee visits. The simulations generated consistent, unbiased predictions of fruit quality for 12 raspberry fields. This model could be easily adapted to other animal-pollinated crops and used to guide efficient pollinator management in any agro-ecosystem.