Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Virtual pollination trade uncovers global dependence on biodiversity of developing countries

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Science Advances  10 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 11, eabe6636
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe6636
  • Fig. 1 Pollination events made by pollinators are a limited resource shared between flowering species within a landscape.

    The figure shows the distribution of pollination events made by an individual pollinator during its lifetime in two landscapes with similar amounts (50%) of natural habitat (mixed with local small-scale farming), one (A) with 50% of land covered by an intensively managed crop field attractive to pollinators (unsuitable for pollinator nesting and oviposition), and another (B) with 50% of the land covered by an intensively managed crop field unattractive to pollinators (unsuitable for pollinator nesting and oviposition). During crop flowering period, some pollinators opt to search for resources in the intensively managed crop field instead of getting such resources from other plants. This scheme ignores potential negative effects of pesticides used in intensively managed crop field on pollinator lifetime.

  • Fig. 2 Schematic representation of virtual pollination flow.

    (A) Pollinator contribution to production is based on both pollinator dependence rate and potential provision of biodiversity-based ecosystem services (i.e., percentage of cropland adjacent to vegetation areas) (ND crop, nondependent crop; PD crop, pollinator-dependent crop). (B) Production dependent on pollinator is produced in exporting countries and then goes to domestic consumption and trade (Exp, exportation; Imp, importation). (C) Example of a VP flow map (Brazilian exports, 2001–2015). Color scheme is applied to the log-transformed values of exported product (tons). Full online tool with information on all countries’ exports and imports can be accessed here (https://virtual-pollination-trade.shinyapps.io/virtual-biotic-pollination-flow/).

  • Fig. 3 Effect of country development level on trade of pollination-dependent crops.

    (A and B) HDI effect on the proportion of pollinator-dependent crops on overall exportation of agricultural products and on the proportion of pollination services (VPE) on overall exportation of pollinator-dependent crops, respectively. (C and D) HDI effect on the proportion of pollinator-dependent crops on overall importation and on the proportion of pollination services (VPI) on overall importation of pollinator-dependent crops, respectively. For statistical details, see table S3. Black vertical tick marks on the top and bottom of the graphs represent data density. Full online tool with information on all countries’ exports and imports can be accessed here (https://virtual-pollination-trade.shinyapps.io/virtual-biotic-pollination-flow/).

  • Fig. 4 Effect of country development level on dependence on importation of non–pollinator-dependent crops, pollinator-dependent crops, and virtual pollination imports (VPI).

    Countries’ dependence is here measured by the proportion of importation on national consumption. For statistical details, see table S3.

  • Fig. 5 Effect of virtual pollination exportation on cropland expansion.

    Graphs present the effect of countries’ contribution to global VPE on their cropland expansion (between 2001 and 2015) of pollinator-dependent crops (A) and non–pollinator-dependent crops (B). Statistical details are presented in table S3. Black vertical tick marks on the top and bottom of the graphs represent data density. Horizontal dashed line represents no change in cropland and pollination service provision.

  • Fig. 6 Effect of development level of exporting countries on the provision of pollination services (2001–2015).

    Change in pollination provision was calculated between 2001 and 2015 on the basis of total area of cropland that was sufficiently near to natural vegetation (i.e., pixel center at less than 450 m) to be considered to receive pollination services (see Materials and Methods). Statistical details are presented in table S3. Black vertical tick marks on the top and bottom of the graphs represent data density. Horizontal dashed line represents no change in cropland and pollination service provision.

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Virtual pollination trade uncovers global dependence on biodiversity of developing countries

    F. D. S. Silva, L. G. Carvalheiro, J. Aguirre-Gutiérrez, M. Lucotte, K. Guidoni-Martins, F. Mertens

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    • Figs. S1 to S5
    • Tables S1 to S3
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