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PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e54818. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054818. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

Organic farming favours insect-pollinated over non-insect pollinated forbs in meadows and wheat fields.

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  • 1Agroecology, Georg-August University, Göttingen, Germany.


The aim of this study was to determine the relative effects of landscape-scale management intensity, local management intensity and edge effect on diversity patterns of insect-pollinated vs. non-insect pollinated forbs in meadows and wheat fields. Nine landscapes were selected differing in percent intensively used agricultural area (IAA), each with a pair of organic and conventional winter wheat fields and a pair of organic and conventional meadows. Within fields, forbs were surveyed at the edge and in the interior. Both diversity and cover of forbs were positively affected by organic management in meadows and wheat fields. This effect, however, differed significantly between pollination types for species richness in both agroecosystem types (i.e. wheat fields and meadows) and for cover in meadows. Thus, we show for the first time in a comprehensive analysis that insect-pollinated plants benefit more from organic management than non-insect pollinated plants regardless of agroecosystem type and landscape complexity. These benefits were more pronounced in meadows than wheat fields. Finally, the community composition of insect-pollinated and non-insect-pollinated forbs differed considerably between management types. In summary, our findings in both agroecosystem types indicate that organic management generally supports a higher species richness and cover of insect-pollinated plants, which is likely to be favourable for the density and diversity of bees and other pollinators.

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