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Individual Highlight

Assessing Agroforestry’s Role in Supporting Insect Pollinators

Photo of Brown belted bumble bee foraging on a redbud tree. Brown belted bumble bee foraging on a redbud tree. Snapshot : First-ever systematic review of agroforestry’s contribution to enhancing pollinator conservation and pollination services on farms and ranches.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Bentrup, Gary 
Research Location : Nationwide
Research Station : Washington Office (WO)
Year : 2020
Highlight ID : 1635


Pollination is a critical ecosystem service. Roughly 35% of global crop production is dependent on pollination by animals, mostly insects. By adding structural and functional diversity to agricultural landscapes, agroforestry can support pollinator conservation and pollination services. Through a more comprehensive understanding of the effects of agroforestry practices on pollinators and their key services, we can better design agroforestry systems to provide these benefits in addition to other desired ecosystem services. A literature review was conducted to synthesize information on how temperate agroforestry systems influence insect pollinators and their pollination services with a particular focus on the role of trees and shrubs. This review of 134 scientific publications documents that agroforestry practices can provide three overarching benefits for pollinators: (1) providing habitat including foraging resources and nesting or egg-laying sites, (2) enhancing site and landscape connectivity, and (3) mitigating pesticide exposure. Available scientific evidence also suggests that agroforestry practices can enhance crop pollination and yields, though more research is needed to better understand this ecosystem service.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Jennifer Hopwood, Nancy Lee Adamson, and Mace Vaughan - USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation

Program Areas