Forest remnants enhance wild pollinator visits to cashew flowers and mitigate pollination deficit in NE Brazil
Pollination deficit could cause low yields in cashew (Anacardium occidentale) and it is possible that deforestation surrounding cashew plantations may prevent effective pollinators from visiting cashew flowers and contribute to this deficit. In the present work, we investigated the proximity effect of small and large forest fragments on the abundance and flower visits by feral Apis mellifera and wild native pollinators to cashew flowers and their interactions with yield in cashew plantations. Cashew nut yield was highest when plantations bordered a small forest fragment and were close to the large forest fragment. Yield from plantations that did not border small forest fragments but were close to the large forest fragment did not differ to yield from plantations at a greater distance to the large forest fragment. Flower visits by wild native pollinators, mainly Trigona spinipes, were negatively affected by distance to the large forest remnant and their numbers were directly correlated to nut yield. The number of A. mellifera visiting cashew flowers did not change significantly with distance to forest fragments, nor was it correlated with yield. We conclude that increasing the number of wild pollinator visits may increase yield, and proximity to large forest fragments are important for this.
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