Ecological intensification to mitigate impacts of conventional intensive land use on pollinators and pollination

Anikó Kovács-Hostyánszki, Anahí Espíndola, Adam J. Vanbergen, Josef Settele, Claire Kremen, Lynn V. Dicks

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Worldwide, human appropriation of ecosystems is disrupting plant–pollinator communities and pollination function through habitat conversion and landscape homogenisation. Conversion to agriculture is destroying and degrading semi-natural ecosystems while conventional land-use intensification (e.g. industrial management of large-scale monocultures with high chemical inputs) homogenises landscape structure and quality. Together, these anthropogenic processes reduce the connectivity of populations and erode floral and nesting resources to undermine pollinator abundance and diversity, and ultimately pollination services. Ecological intensification of agriculture represents a strategic alternative to ameliorate these drivers of pollinator decline while supporting sustainable food production, by promoting biodiversity beneficial to agricultural production through management practices such as intercropping, crop rotations, farm-level diversification and reduced agrochemical use. We critically evaluate its potential to address and reverse the land use and management trends currently degrading pollinator communities and potentially causing widespread pollination deficits. We find that many of the practices that constitute ecological intensification can contribute to mitigating the drivers of pollinator decline. Our findings support ecological intensification as a solution to pollinator declines, and we discuss ways to promote it in agricultural policy and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673–689
JournalEcology Letters
Issue number5
Early online date27 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


  • Crop production
  • diversification
  • food security
  • grazing/mowing intensity
  • habitat loss
  • landscape fragmentation
  • mass-flowering crops
  • wild pollinator diversity

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