Loss of suitable seminatural habitats and homogenization of crop types have led to the population decline of pollinating insects in farmland. As these insects support crop production, many practical efforts aim to sustain pollinator diversity which is especially challenging in intensively managed and homogeneous farmland. However, there are ongoing changes of the farmland toward its multifunctionality that includes, for example, wind farm development. Windmills are often built within crops; thus, we examined if the noncropped area around windmills can be valuable habitats for wild plants and pollinating insects: bees, butterflies, and flies. Species richness, abundances, and species diversity index of plants and pollinators around windmills were similar to those found in grassland patches (a typical habitat for these insects) and higher than in the adjacent crops. Pollinator diversity index and species richness at windmills increased with the distance to the nearest grassland patch and windmill. The population sizes of pollinating insects were also positively associated with plant diversity. Particular groups of pollinators showed specific habitat associations: bees occurred mostly at windmills, butterflies were highly associated with grasslands, while flies occurred in a similar number at windmill and on grasslands. Since windmills are frequently built within extensive homogeneous fields, thus, they introduce pollination services into the interior of cropped areas, contrary to field margins, road verges, or seminatural grasslands. Thus, although the development of wind farms has various negative environmental consequences, they can be alleviated by the increase of the local population size and diversity of wild plants and pollinating insects at windmills.
The association of windmills with conservation of pollinating insects and wild plants in homogeneous farmland of western Poland
Title: The association of windmills with conservation of pollinating insects and wild plants in homogeneous farmland of western Poland
March 01, 2018
Journal: Environmental Science and Pollution Research
Pustkowiak, S.; Banaszak-Cibicka, W.; Mielczarek, L.; Tryjanowski, P.; Skorka, P. (2018). The association of windmills with conservation of pollinating insects and wild plants in homogeneous farmland of western Poland. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 25(7), 6273-6284.