Ruderal Plants Providing Bees Diversity on Rural Properties
Keywords:plant diversity, smallholder rural properties, crops, Atlantic Forest
Many are the anthropogenic drivers of pollinator decline, but the loss of suitable habitats, among other effects caused by agricultural intensification, deserves special attention. Reduction in the availability of floral resources negatively affects bee communities, compromising bee species composition, foraging behavior, corporal size, and fitness. Our study aims to understand whether the presence of herbaceous plants, acting as foraging sites, next to crops contributes to bee species richness in smallholder rural properties. Bee sampling was performed on smallholder rural properties in the municipality of Guapiara, southern São Paulo state. Individuals who visited the flowers of ruderal plants and crops were collected, using an entomological net, for ten months. A total of 61 bee species were identified, with the highest species richness being sampled in ruderal plant flowers in the three properties studied. Only in one property, ruderal plants hosted a more diverse bee assemblage (Shannon-Weiner and taxonomic diversity indices), but species composition differed from that sampled in crop plants (Jaccard index) in all properties. Thirty-two species were sampled exclusively in ruderal plants, versus 9 only in crops and 20 species in both types of plants. Pollen analysis showed that of the 22 species of bees that were sampled only on flowers of ruderal plants, 9 species carried pollen of tomato and one species of bee carried pollen of kabocha squash. Ruderal plants can provide an alternative food resource for pollinators, enabling these insects to remain in or be attracted to crop areas, where, in addition to visiting such plants, they also visit the cultivated plant flowers. Allowing coexistence between crops and ruderal plants, provided that the issues of plant health are observed, is a simple and low-cost measure for farmers and will provide both economic and environmental benefits.
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