Significance of direct and indirect pollination ecosystem services to the apple industry in the Western Cape of South Africa

Mouton, Madele (2011-03)

Thesis (MScConEcol (Conservation Ecology and Entomology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Insect pollinators play an important role in producing crops in global agriculture. Pollinatordependent crops contribute to maintaining a healthy variety in the human diet and often have a high market value, beneficial for local or regional economies. Insect crop pollinators can either be from natural areas adjacent to orchards, or they can be brought into orchards by beekeepers that manage them. Pollination by wild pollinators is an ecosystem service, while managed pollinators (mostly honeybees) is a humanly managed service, considered not to be related to the ecosystem. Ecosystem services and their economic value have often been used as an incentive for conservation, although it is sometimes difficult to characterise and quantify them. Wild and managed pollinators have been reported to be threatened in several regions around the world, and there is concern about the effect a pollination deficit may have on crop production. Different crops and cultivars have different levels of dependence on insect pollination due to a combination of biological, physical and management factors. In this study, the pollination dependence of the Granny Smith apple cultivar and the respective contributions of wild and managed pollinators are investigated in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Granny Smith apples show a significant increase in production with insect pollination (wild and managed). Managed honeybees are more abundant in orchards than wild honeybees, and also provide a better pollination service. This difference between the pollination service of wild and managed honeybees are specifically noted in the quality, where managed honeybees pollination result in significantly more seeds per fruit and consequently produce a better shaped apple. The study goes further by quantifying the ecosystem services to the managed honeybee industry through a questionnaire completed by beekeepers. It was found that 49% of the managed hives in the Western Cape rely to some extent on natural vegetation as a forage source. Furthermore 18% of honey produced is also from natural vegetation and the wild honeybee population replenish managed honeybee stocks if they become depleted. Although managed honeybees are not usually considered an ecosystem service, it is clear that they are still linked to the ecosystem via these pathways. It is thus obvious that all pollination sources are linked to the environment, not just wild pollinators. A further economic valuation of the ecosystem service studied, and to the argument for conservation of pollinators and the resources they depend on.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Insek bestuiwing speel ‘n belangrike rol in die produksie van gewasse in landbou wêreldwyd. Gewasse wat bestuiwing-afhanklik is, dra by tot ‘n gesonde verskeidenheid in die mens se dieët en hul hoë mark waarde is voordelig vir plaaslike en streeks ekonomieë. Insek bestuiwers kan of van natuurlike areas langs boorde afkomstig wees, of bestuurde bestuiwers kan deur byeboere in boorde ingebring word. Bestuiwing deur wilde bestuiwers is ‘n ekosisteem diens, maar die byeboere verskaf ‘n bestuurde diens, wat nie altyd gereken word om aan die ekosisteem verwant te wees nie. Ekosisteem dienste en hul ekonomiese waarde word gereeld gebruik as insentief vir bewaring, alhoewel dit soms moeilik is om dit te karaktariseer en te kwantifiseer. In sekere streke wêreldwyd is dit bewys dat wilde, asook bestuurde bestuiwers, bedreig is en daar heers bekommernis dat ‘n tekort aan bestuiwers gewas produksie negatief sal beïnvloed. Verskillende gewasse en kultivars het verskillende vlakke van bestuiwing-afhanklikheid as gevolg van verskillende biologiese en fisiese faktore en bestuurspraktyke. In hierdie studie is die bestuiwings-afhanklikheid van die Granny Smith appel kultivar ondersoek, asook die bydrae van wilde en bestuurde heuningbye in die Wes-Kaap provinsie van Suid Afrika. Granny Smith appels toon ‘n betekenisvolle produksie verbetering met insek bestuiwing (wilde en bestuurde bye). Daar is ‘n groter hoeveelheid bestuurde bye in ‘n boord as wilde bye, en hulle verskaf ook dus ‘n beter bestuiwingsdiens. Die voordeel van bestuurde bye bo wilde bye word veral in vrug kwaliteit opgemerk. As bestuurde bye gebruik word, is daar betekenisvol meer sade per vrug en gevolglik het die appels ook ‘n beter vorm. Verder fokus die studie ook op die kwantifisering van ekosisteem dienste wat aan die bestuurde heuningby industrie verskaf word, deur inligting van byeboere te gebruik. Daar is bevind dat 49% van die kolonies bestuurde bye in die Wes- Kaap is tot ‘n mate afhanklik van natuurlike plantegroei vir voedsel. Verder is 18% van die geproduseerde heuning ook afkomstig van natuurlike plantegroei se nektar en byeboere vang wilde kolonies om uitgestorwe bestuurde kolonies te vervang. Dit is dus duidelik dat alle bestuiwings bronne gekoppel is aan die omgewing, nie slegs wilde bestuiwers nie. ‘n Verdere ekonomiese waardasie van die onderskeie ekosisteem dienste wat bestudeer is, voeg motivering by tot die bewaring van bestuiwers en die hulpbronne waarvan hulle afhanklik is.

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