Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Fruit Orchards

BESFruit is the outcome of a multi-year research funded by Spain and EU sources.


INIA RTA2017-00051 (MM)

ERANet C-IPM 2016 Id38 (MM)

MinECo CGL2015-68963 (DG)

BiodivERsA-FACCE2014-74 (DG)

INIA RTA2013-00139 (MM)

What we seek

Our objectives are to discern 1) the environmental drivers of animal biodiversity in fruit orchards, and 2) the effects of biodiversity in the provision of ecosystem services for farmers and people. We aim to develop evidence-based tools of ecological intensification and environmental stewardship of agricultural landscapes.

What we have done

By combining landscape analysis with large-scale field monitoring and experiments, we have adressed the relevance of animal biodiversity on cider apple and blueberry crops in northern Spain (Asturias). We focus on florivorous insects and insectivorous birds providing, respectively, pollination and pest control services in the same orchards.

What we have found

Apple orchards are outstandly rich in insectivorous birds and pollinator insects. Not all orchards are equal for biodiversity: pollinators are favoured by semi-natural landscapes (with forests) and large blooms in orchards, whereas birds by wide apple tree canopies and surrounding woody hedgerows.

Wild pollinators are essential for apple and blueberry fruit yields. Insectivorous birds reduce pest occurrence in apple orchards. Both pollination and pest control increase with animal abundance and species richness in orchards.

What we recommend to farmers

Promoting protective habitat (e.g. surrounding woody hedgerows, nestboxes and insect hotels, ) and trophic resources (e.g. wild flowers in orchard groundcover) within and around orchards, and reducing the use of pesticides, improve pollination and pest control by natural enemies.

to managers …

Actions of ecological intensification by farmers must be supported by agro-environmental policies under the new CAP. The measures should be also integrated within land-use plans in order to achieve rural landscapes working for conservation and people.

and to people …

Making compatible fruit production and conservation of biodiversity is possible.  Scientists, farmers, managers and people must take an active role in ecological stewardship.