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Enhancement of Buffer Strips Can Improve Provision of Multiple Ecosystem Services

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Farmland invertebrates play a pivotal role in the provision of ecosystem services, i.e. services that benefit humans. For example, bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees, are crucial to the pollination of many of the world's crops and wildflowers, with over 70% of the world's major food crops dependent on the pollination services provided by these insects. The larvae of some butterfly species are considered to be pests; however, together with moth and sawfly larvae, they represent a key dietary component for many farmland birds. Spiders and ground beetles predate on crop pests including aphids, whilst soil macrofauna such as earthworms are vital for soil fertility services and nutrient recycling. Despite their importance, population declines of invertebrates have been observed during the last sixty years in the UK and NW Europe. For example, seven UK bumblebee species are in decline, and in the last 20 years, the species Bombus subterraneus (short-haired bumblebee) has become extinct, whilst there was a 54% decline in honeybee colony numbers in England from 1985 to 2005. Comparable trends have been documented for butterflies with a 23% decline in UK farmland species such as Anthocharis cardamines (orange tip) between 1990 and 2007. These declines have been widely attributed to the modern intensive arable management practices that have been developed to maximise crop yield. For example, loss and fragmentation of foraging and nesting habitats, including species-rich meadows and hedgerows, have been implicated in the decline of bees and butterflies. Increased use of herbicides and fertilisers has caused detrimental effects on many plant species with negative consequences for predatory invertebrates such as spiders and beetles which rely on plants for food and shelter.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2012-12-01

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