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  • 2020GreenopPhD

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Using species traits to understand the mechanisms driving pollination and pest control ecosystem services

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2020
Number of pages281
Awarding Institution
  • Wilby, Andy, Supervisor
  • Woodcock, Ben, Supervisor, External person
  • Pywell, Richard , Supervisor, External person
  • Cook, Samantha, Supervisor, External person
Award date22/06/2020
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Modern intensive agricultural practices characteristic of Western Europe and North America, such as high usage of agro-chemicals, are cited as key drivers of biodiversity declines. Declines in biodiversity are likely to impact on a number of natural processes termed ‘ecosystem services’, which include pollination and pest control that play an important role in agricultural production. Because of the negative effects of intensive agricultural practices, there has been a search for alternative systems of production. One approach is ecological intensification, where ecosystem services are maximised in agriculture as a way to offset anthropogenic inputs that can damage the wider environment. Key to the success of ecological intensification is gaining a mechanistic understanding of how biodiversity supports the functioning of ecosystem services, so management can be targeted to maximise service delivery. In order to ensure that food production is sustainable in the face of constantly changing environments it is also important to understand how biodiversity responds to stressors, such as insecticide use. This thesis focuses on using invertebrate species morphological and behavioural characteristics—referred to collectively as traits—to gain a mechanistic understanding of how different components of biodiversity support the functioning and resilience of pollination and pest control ecosystem services. Results highlight that trait approaches provide higher accuracy in predicting the functioning and resilience of natural pest control and pollination, than measures such as species richness. I also highlight that common environmental stressors such as insecticides and extreme heat have the potential to limit pest control and pollination ecosystem services, respectively. My results broadly demonstrate that utilising invertebrate species behavioural and morphological traits are beneficial in understanding the mechanisms driving pollination and pest control ecosystem services.