Global effects of land-use intensity on local pollinator biodiversity

Joseph Millard*, Charlotte L Outhwaite, Robyn Kinnersley, Robin Freeman, Richard D Gregory, Opeyemi Adedoja, Sabrina Gavini, Esther Kioko, Michael Kuhlmann, Jeff Ollerton, Zong-Xin Ren, Tim Newbold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Pollinating species are in decline globally, with land use an important driver. However, most of the evidence on which these claims are made is patchy, based on studies with low taxonomic and geographic representativeness. Here, we model the effect of land-use type and intensity on global pollinator biodiversity, using a local-scale database covering 303 studies, 12,170 sites, and 4502 pollinating species. Relative to a primary vegetation baseline, we show that low levels of intensity can have beneficial effects on pollinator biodiversity. Within most anthropogenic land-use types however, increasing intensity is associated with significant reductions, particularly in urban (43% richness and 62% abundance reduction compared to the least intensive urban sites), and pasture (75% abundance reduction) areas. We further show that on cropland, the strongly negative response to intensity is restricted to tropical areas, and that the direction and magnitude of response differs among taxonomic groups. Our findings confirm widespread effects of land-use intensity on pollinators, most significantly in the tropics, where land use is predicted to change rapidly.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2902
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Early online date18 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2021


  • Animals
  • Ecosystem
  • Biodiversity
  • Population Density
  • Species Specificity
  • Geography
  • Agriculture
  • Pollination
  • Insecta
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Pollination/physiology
  • Agriculture/methods
  • Insecta/classification


Dive into the research topics of 'Global effects of land-use intensity on local pollinator biodiversity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this