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Yann Clough. Photo.

Yann Clough


Yann Clough. Photo.

Landscape configurational heterogeneity by small-scale agriculture, not crop diversity, maintains pollinators and plant reproduction in western Europe


  • Annika L. Hass
  • Urs G. Kormann
  • Teja Tscharntke
  • Yann Clough
  • Aliette Bosem Baillod
  • Clélia Sirami
  • Lenore Fahrig
  • Jean Louis Martin
  • Jacques Baudry
  • Colette Bertrand
  • Jordi Bosch
  • Lluís Brotons
  • Françoise Bure
  • Romain Georges
  • David Giralt
  • María Marcos-García
  • Antonio Ricarte
  • Gavin Siriwardena
  • Péter Batáry

Summary, in English

Agricultural intensification is one of the main causes for the current biodiversity crisis. While reversing habitat loss on agricultural land is challenging, increasing the farmland configurational heterogeneity (higher field border density) and farmland compositional heterogeneity (higher crop diversity) has been proposed to counteract some habitat loss. Here, we tested whether increased farmland configurational and compositional heterogeneity promote wild pollinators and plant reproduction in 229 landscapes located in four major western European agricultural regions. High-field border density consistently increased wild bee abundance and seed set of radish (Raphanus sativus), probably through enhanced connectivity. In particular, we demonstrate the importance of crop-crop borders for pollinator movement as an additional experiment showed higher transfer of a pollen analogue along crop-crop borders than across fields or along semi-natural crop borders. By contrast, high crop diversity reduced bee abundance, probably due to an increase of crop types with particularly intensive management. This highlights the importance of crop identity when higher crop diversity is promoted. Our results show that small-scale agricultural systems can boost pollinators and plant reproduction. Agri-environmental policies should therefore aim to halt and reverse the current trend of increasing field sizes and to reduce the amount of crop types with particularly intensive management.


  • Centre for Environmental and Climate Science (CEC)
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences





Document type

Journal article


Royal Society Publishing


  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use


  • Bee
  • Compositional heterogeneity
  • Field size
  • Hoverfly
  • Landscape heterogeneity
  • Pollen transfer




  • ISSN: 0962-8452