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    Agriculture and Pollinator Biodiversity

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    Submitted by: Cristian Villagra
    (This entry belongs to Entry Collection "Environmental Sciences ")


    Pollinator biodiversity is greatly affected by industrialized agriculture practices. Agroecological alternatives for food production must be implemented. 

    1. Introduction

    Industrial agriculture (hereafter “IA”) promoted by the Green Revolution has arguably brought about significant increases in food production globally over the past 70 years [1]. These models involve the use of a «technical package» with strong dependency on fossil fuels, which include large-scale monocrop landscapes of improved/selected seeds, increased mechanization, and the incorporation of “external inputs” to enhance plant growth and yield such as the introduction of managed pollinators, synthetic fertilizers and pesticides [2].
    Agroecology (AE) takes advantage of local biotic components and abiotic conditions found in the agricultural landscape, seeking to match crops with local abiotic conditions and promote beneficial associated organisms [3]; highlighting the value of local knowledge and biodiversity that benefits agricultural production [4]. For instance, AE considers available organisms that improve crop productivity such as pollination, biological control, and decomposition as “resource biota” [5][6]. Through this lens, local diversity is regarded as a natural “internal input” (Figure 1; Figure 2), as opposed to “external inputs” required for IA production, enhancing sustainable food production in agroecologically-managed fields. Internal input provides different ecosystem services and ecological interactions [7][8]. The latter includes pollinators, predators, parasites, and herbivores as well as non-crop vegetation, soil invertebrates, and microorganisms, among other components of local biodiversity helping crop yield [9].
    Figure 1. Schematic representation of industrial agriculture intensive management. Arrows and positive sings represent favorable influences between elements depicted by icons and tittles. “T” ending lines and negative signs symbolize unfavorable impacts. Landscape homogenization, the simplification of rural ecosystems that takes place under industrial agriculture, is illustrated with a bulldozer. The application of external inputs such as pesticides, GMOs, and managed exotic biological control agents and pollinators, is shown as an operator spraying agrochemicals. Landscape homogenization and external inputs are used to sustain crop yield production (represented by various fruits) under industrialized schemes. Nonetheless industrial agriculture’s landscape homogenization and external inputs are at the same time causing a decline of local biodiversity (e.g., beneficial microorganisms, plants, and animals), which despite not being recognized by industrial agriculture, are contributing to crop yield as internal inputs (in calypso lines). This component is illustrated by a slide of soil showing different wild lifeforms and their positive influences by calypso color lines. Among beneficial organisms present in agricultural landscapes are wild pollinators, represented by native bees. These are being exemplified in this figure by three specimens (with large to small species) by genera: Bombus, Anthidium, and Lasioglossum native species. Native bees’ positive interactions with crop yield and the remaining internal inputs the other components of this diagram are shown with red lines and arrows. Images in grey highlight detrimental effects on illustrated components (e.g., internal inputs and native bees).

    The entry is from 10.3390/su13126728


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