Mass-flowering crops dilute pollinator abundance in agricultural landscapes across Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mass-flowering crops (MFCs) are increasingly cultivated and might influence pollinator communities in MFC fields and nearby semi-natural habitats (SNHs). Across six European regions and 2 years, we assessed how landscape-scale cover of MFCs affected pollinator densities in 408 MFC fields and adjacent SNHs. In MFC fields, densities of bumblebees, solitary bees, managed honeybees and hoverflies were negatively related to the cover of MFCs in the landscape. In SNHs, densities of bumblebees declined with increasing cover of MFCs but densities of honeybees increased. The densities of all pollinators were generally unrelated to the cover of SNHs in the landscape. Although MFC fields apparently attracted pollinators from SNHs, in landscapes with large areas of MFCs they became diluted. The resulting lower densities might negatively affect yields of pollinator-dependent crops and the reproductive success of wild plants. An expansion of MFCs needs to be accompanied by pollinator-supporting practices in agricultural landscapes.


  • Andrea Holzschuh
  • Matteo Dainese
  • Juan P. González-Varo
  • Sonja Mudri-Stojnić
  • Verena Riedinger
  • Maj Rundlöf
  • Jeroen Scheper
  • Jennifer B. Wickens
  • Victoria J. Wickens
  • Riccardo Bommarco
  • David Kleijn
  • Simon G. Potts
  • Stuart P M Roberts
  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Montserrat Vilà
  • Ante Vujić
  • Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
External organisations
  • Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
  • Wageningen University
  • University of Reading
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
  • CSIC Estación Biológica de Doñana (EBD)
  • University of Novi Sad
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
  • Ecology


  • Agri-environment schemes, Agricultural intensification, Biofuels, Crop pollination, Ecosystem services, Field boundaries, Landscape composition, Non-crop habitats, Semi-natural habitats, Spillover
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1228–1236
JournalEcology Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Publication categoryResearch