Pollination Potential of Riparian Hardwood Forests—A Multifaceted Field-Based Assessment in the Vistula Valley, Poland

Andrzej N. Affek, Edyta Regulska, Ewa Kołaczkowska, Anna Kowalska, Katarzyna Anna Affek

Riparian forests with oaks, ashes and elms, now highly fragmented and rare in Europe, are considered hotspots for ecosystem services. However, their capacity to provide pollination seems to be quite low, although reports from in-situ research supporting this view are scarce. Our goal was therefore to thoroughly assess their pollination potential based on multifaceted field measurements. For this, we selected six test sites with well-developed riparian hardwood forests, located in the agricultural landscape along the middle Vistula River in Poland. We used seven indicators relating to habitat suitability (nesting sites and floral resources) and pollinator abundance (bumblebees and other Apoidea) and propose a threshold value (AdjMax) based on value distribution and Hampel’s test to indicate the level of pollination potential for this type of riparian forest. The obtained AdjMax for bumblebee density was 500 ind. ha−1, for Apoidea abundance—0.42 ind. day−1, while for nectar resources—200 kg ha−1. We demonstrate that the investigated small patches of the riparian hardwood forest have a higher pollination potential than reported earlier for riparian and other broadleaved temperate forests, but the indicators were inconsistent. As forest islands in the agricultural landscape, riparian hardwood forests play an important role in maintaining the diversity and abundance of wild pollinators, especially in early spring when there is still no food base available elsewhere.

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