European Union Projects
Project duration: 
Dec 2014

Animal communities provide important ecosystem services (ES). Nowhere is their service more important than in fruit production, where certain species are required for pollination, and others function as biocontrol agents against various pest species attacking flowers, leaves or fruits. Different species provide benefits but others negative impacts on net fruit production. Therefore it is crucial to understand how biodiversity can be promoted to maximize fruit production while minimizing external agricultural inputs such as renting honeybees and the use of pesticides. 


The overall goal of our project is to understand how European agri-environmental schemes (AES, organic farming, flowering strips and hedgerows) affect biodiversity and related ES and how this relates to net fruit production in different climates across Europe.

Our study sites will comprise a climatic gradient from southern to northern Europe in Spain, Germany and Sweden. We will use apple as a target crop as it is the most frequently grown fruit in Europe. In the three countries organic and conventional orchards, managed with and without adjacent hedgerows and flower-providing habitats will be studied.

In particular, we will address the following issues:

1. Effectiveness of AES implemented at two spatial scales (farm and adjacent farm scale) to increase biodiversity and ES in a landscape context as the successful implementation of AES depend on the landscape context for mobile services providers. 

2. Functional importance of biodiversity in leaf- and fruit-attacking animals (pests), their natural enemies (insects and birds) as well as flower-visiting and pollinating insects. We aim to understand the complementary role of different species for multiple ES.

3. Establishing a trait database for pests, natural enemies and pollinators. We will focus on important effect traits to assess the functional diversity related to fruit production, as well as response traits to better understand the response diversity and thus resilience in each functional group to potential climatic variation.

4. Trade-offs between benefits and negative effects of different functional groups of animals.

Field methods to be applied across all countries will include standardised sampling protocols developed by the applicants to measure flower visitation, crop damage by pests, parasitism and predation. 

Our project will identify the most effective AES in given landscape conditions in three European countries with the goal to reduce external inputs without minimizing net fruit production. We will therefore deliver results of direct importance for policy to improve the implementation of AES. Besides this we will provide important information of key species (functional and response traits) affecting fruit production across Europe. This is important as biodiversity, particularly due to the heterogeneity of response traits, is likely to function as a buffer of ES against such land-use and climate changes.

  • Gestió de serveis ecosistèmics per a la producció de fruita en diferents climes d'Europa