Degradation of soil fertility can cancel pollination benefits in sunflower

Tamburini, Giovanni; Berti, Antonio; Morari, Francesco; Marini, Lorenzo
February 2016
Oecologia;Feb2016, Vol. 180 Issue 2, p581
Academic Journal
Pollination and soil fertility are important ecosystem services to agriculture but their relative roles and potential interactions are poorly understood. We explored the combined effects of pollination and soil fertility in sunflower using soils from a trial characterized by different long-term input management in order to recreate plausible levels of soil fertility. Pollinator exclusion was used as a proxy for a highly eroded pollination service. Pollination benefits to yield depended on soil fertility, i.e., insect pollination enhanced seed set and yield only under higher soil fertility indicating that limited nutrient availability may constrain pollination benefits. Our study provides evidence for interactions between above- and belowground ecosystem services, highlighting the crucial role of soil fertility in supporting agricultural production not only directly, but also indirectly through pollination. Management strategies aimed at enhancing pollination services might fail in increasing yield in landscapes characterized by high soil service degradation. Comprehensive knowledge about service interactions is therefore essential for the correct management of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes.


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