Pollination ecosystem services to onion hybrid seed crops in South Africa

Brand, Mariette Rieks (2014-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Insect pollination contributes in various degrees toward the production of a variety of agricultural crops that ensure diversity and nutritional value in the human diet. Although managed honeybees (Apis mellifera L.) are still the most economically valuable pollinators of monoculture crops cultivated globally, wild pollinator communities can contribute substantially toward crop pollination through pollination ecosystem services sourced from neighbouring natural habitats. Pollination ecosystem services are thus valuable and can motivate for the protection of natural ecosystems hosting diverse insect pollinator communities. F1 onion hybrid seed production is entirely dependent on high insect pollinator activity to ensure cross pollination, seed set and profitable seed yields. Data was collected on 18 onion hybrid seed crops grown in the semi‐arid Klein Karoo and southern Karoo regions of the Western Cape, South Africa. These two main production regions are located within the Succulent Karoo biome, recognized as a global biodiversity hotspot of especially high plant diversity. It is also habitat to the indigenous Cape honeybee (Apis mellifera capensis Esch.). Sites selected varied in the percentages of available natural habitat and managed honeybee hives stocking density. Diverse anthophile assemblages were sampled with pan traps within all the onion fields, regardless of the percentage of available natural habitat near the crop. Crop management practices significantly affected the diversity of anthophile species caught within onion fields, although less than 20% of this diversity was observed actually visiting onion flowers. The honeybee (managed and wild) was by far the most important pollinator because of its high visitation frequency and regular substantial onion pollen loads carried on their bodies. Honeybee visitation significantly increased onion hybrid seed yield, while anthophile diversity and non‐Apis visitation had no effect on seed yield. Neither managed hive density, nor percentage natural habitat were important in determining honeybee visitation or seed yield. Total annual rainfall was the only significant factor determining honeybee visitation. Secondary factors caused by rainfall variability, such as wild flower abundance or soil moisture, may have significantly affected honeybee visitation. In addition, the positive correlation between honeybee visitation and the diversity of hand‐sampled insects from onion flowers; indicate that either or both onion varietal attractiveness and/or pollinator population size may have had significant effects on overall insect visitation. Honeybees showed marked discrimination between hybrid onion parental lines and preferred to forage on one or the other during single foraging trips. Hybrid onion parents differed significantly in nectar characteristics and onion flower scent which would encourage selective foraging through floral constancy. Interspecies interactions were insignificant in causing increased honeybee pollination because of the scarcity of non‐Apis visitors. Most farming practices are subjected to favourable environmental conditions for successful production. However, and especially in the South African context, the dependence of onion hybrid seed crops on insect pollination for successful yields, increase its reliance on natural ecosystem dynamics that may deliver abundant wild honeybee pollinators, or attract them away from the crops. Nevertheless, this dependence can be mitigated effectively by the use of managed honeybee colonies to supplement wild honeybee workers on the flowers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Insek bestuiwing dra in verskillende grade by tot die produksie van landbou gewasse wat variteit en voedingswaarde in die mens se dieet verseker. Al is die heuningby (Apis mellifera L.) steeds die waardevolste ekonomiese bestuiwer van verboude enkelgewasse, kan wilde bestuiwers wesenlik bydra tot gewasbestuiwing deur middel van ekosisteem dienste afkomstig van natuurlike habitatte. Bestuiwing ekosisteem dienste is daarom waardevol en kan dus die bewaring van natuurlike ekosisteme, wat diverse gemeenskappe huisves, regverdig. F1 basterui saadproduksie is totaal afhanklik van hoë insek‐bestuiwer aktiwiteit om kruisbestuiwing, saadvorming en winsgewende saadopbrengste te verseker. Data is ingesamel op 18 basterui saad aanplantings in die half‐droë Klein Karoo en suid‐Karoo streke van die Weskaap, Suid‐Afrika. Hierdie twee hoof produksie streke is geleë binne die Sukkulente Karoo bioom wat erken word as ʼn globale biodiversiteits “hotspot” met hoë plant diversiteit. Dit is ook die habitat van die inheemse Kaapse heuningby (Apis mellifera capensis Esch.). Aanplantings is gekies om verskillende grade van beskikbare natuurlike habitat en bestuurde heuningby korf digthede te verteenwoordig. Diverse versamelings blom‐besoekers is versamel met water‐wippe in al die aanplantings, ongeag die persentasie natuurlike habitat beskikbaar by elke aanplanting. Gewas bestuurspraktyke het die diversiteit van blombesoekers betekenisvol beïnvloed. Tog is minder as 20% van hierdie diversiteit as aktiewe besoekers op die uiekoppe waargeneem. Heuningbye (bestuur of wild) was oorwegend die belangrikste bestuiwers as gevolg van hoë besoek frekwensies en wesenlike ladings uiestuifmeel op hulle liggame. Heuningby besoeke het saadopbrengs betekenisvol verhoog, maar blom‐besoeker diversiteit en nie‐Apis besoeke het geen effek op saadopbrengs gehad nie. Bestuurde korf digtheid en persentasie natuurlike habitat was nie belangrik in die bepaling van heuningby besoeke of basterui saadopbrengste nie. Totale jaarlikse reënval was die enigste betekenisvolle faktor wat heuningby besoeke bepaal het. Sekondêre faktore wat versoorsaak word deur reënval veranderlikheid, soos veldblom volopheid of grondvog, kon betekenisvolle effekte op die aantal heuningby besoeke gehad het. Bykomend, dui die positiewe korrelasie tussen heuningby besoeke en die diversiteit van hand‐versamelde insekte vanaf die uiekoppe op die moontlike betekenisvolle effek van elk of beide basterui variteit aantreklikheid en/of bestuiwer populasie grote op algehele insek besoeke. Heuningbye het noemenswaardige diskriminasie getoon tussen die basterui ouerlyne en het verkies om op een of die ander te wei tydens enkele weidingstogte. Basterui ouerlyne het betekenisvol verskil in nektar eienskappe en blomgeur wat die selektiewe weiding van heuningbye, toegepas deur blomkonstantheid, sal aanmoedig. Tussen‐spesie interaksies was onbetekenisvol in die verhoging van heuningby bestuiwing omdat nie‐Apis besoekers baie skaars was. Meeste boerdery praktyke is onderhewig aan gunstige omgewings toestande vir suksesvolle produksie. Maar, en veral in die Suid‐Afrikaanse konteks, omdat basterui saad aanplantings afhanklik is van insek bestuiwing vir suksesvolle opbrengste, word daar meer staat gemaak op natuurlike ekosisteem dinamika wat volop wilde heuningby bestuiwers kan voorsien, of selfs bestuiwers van die aanplanting kan weg lok. Nietemin, hierdie afhanklikheid kan effektief verlaag word deur die gebruik van bestuurde heuningby kolonies om die aantal wilde heuningby werkers op die blomme aan te vul.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/86238
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