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Promoting pollinator dispersal and crop pollination services in Brazilian and US cotton agroecosystems

Grant number: 14/50738-9
Support Opportunities:Regular Research Grants
Duration: June 01, 2015 - July 31, 2018
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Ecology - Ecosystems Ecology
Convênio/Acordo: University of Texas - Austin
Principal Investigator:Maria Imaculada Zucchi
Grantee:Maria Imaculada Zucchi
Principal researcher abroad: Keneth Robert Young
Institution abroad: University of Texas at Austin (UT), United States
Host Institution: Agência Paulista de Tecnologia dos Agronegócios (APTA). Secretaria de Agricultura e Abastecimento (São Paulo - Estado). Campinas , SP, Brazil


An estimated 60% of the world's agricultural supply depends on animal pollination for improved crop quantity, quality, and stability, worth an estimated US$300 billion annually. Bees are the primary pollinators of flowering plants, and provide vital reproductive services for both wild and cultivated plant species, thus they are critical for maintaining natural ecosystem function and global crop production. Native bees provide significant pollination services, and can often decrease deficits in crop pollination and eliminate the need for costly honeybee rental. However, the reliability of native bees for crop pollination has been questioned because native bee abundance, long-term viability, and their pollination services, may be temporally and spatially regulated by landscape-level characteristics. In the proposed research, we will test three hypotheses regarding pollinator population viability and their interaction with the landscape: (1) Vagility: Bee species with larger body size have greater dispersal abilities than smaller bees, and exhibit greater visitation to crops, when they are found in the same landscape context; (2) Genetic diversity and landscape connectivity: Native bee populations found in farms surrounded by a greater proportion of natural habitat and edge density have higher levels genetic diversity and gene flow; and (3) Crop yields: Farms that provide greater landscape connectivity to pollinators have greater pollination services and crop yields in agroecosystems. There is great potential to dually improve crop yields and biodiversity conservation, in both temperate and tropical ecosystems, when local land management supports native pollinator habitat. Numerous studies in fruit crop systems indicate that landscape composition, specifically the proportion and distance to natural habitat, is a strong predictor of native bee population densities. However, these studies have not examined the mechanism driving native bee population dynamics, the species-specific responses to landscape features, and the resulting impact on crop yields. In this research project, we investigate native bee population genetics, landscape connectivity, and pollination service using a combination of genomic tools, spatial modeling, and economic analysis. Besides exhibiting different body sizes, the eight focal bee species exhibit different nesting preferences and foraging strategies, and thus represent a broad range of pollinator ecologies. Furthermore, they are important pollinators of cotton, an understudied crop system worth more than USD$35/year globally. From this project, we will generate valuable information to improve plant production, food safety and environment quality in the US and Brazil by (1) understanding the diversity of the genetic pool in the most economically and ecologically important group of pollinators, (2) advancing pollinator conservation to provide more stable food and fiber production, and (3) providing landscape management recommendations to enhance wild pollination services that play an invaluable role in ecosystem health and global food security. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
GRANDO, C.; AMON, N. D.; CLOUGH, S. J.; GUO, N.; WEI, W.; AZEVEDO, P.; LOPEZ-URIBE, M. M.; ZUCCHI, M. I.. Two Colors, One Species: The Case of Melissodes nigroaenea (Apidae: Eucerini), an Important Pollinator of Cotton Fields in Brazil. Sociobiology, v. 65, n. 4, SI, p. 645-653, . (14/50738-9)
CUSSER, SARAH; GRANDO, CAROLINA; ZUCCHI, MARIA IMACULADA; LOPEZ-URIBE, MARGARITA M.; POPE, NATHANIEL S.; BALLARE, KIMBERLY; LUNA-LUCENA, DANIELLE; ALMEIDA, EDUARDO A. B.; NEFF, JOHN L.; YOUNG, KENNETH; et al. Small but critical: semi-natural habitat fragments promote bee abundance in cotton agroecosystems across both Brazil and the United States. LANDSCAPE ECOLOGY, v. 34, n. 7, SI, p. 1825-1836, . (14/50738-9)

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