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      Oilseed rape ( Brassica napus) as a resource for farmland insect pollinators: quantifying floral traits in conventional varieties and breeding systems


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          Oilseed rape ( OSR; Brassica napus L.) is a major crop in temperate regions and provides an important source of nutrition to many of the yield‐enhancing insect flower visitors that consume floral nectar. The manipulation of mechanisms that control various crop plant traits for the benefit of pollinators has been suggested in the bid to increase food security, but little is known about inherent floral trait expression in contemporary OSR varieties or the breeding systems used in OSR breeding programmes. We studied a range of floral traits in glasshouse‐grown, certified conventional varieties of winter OSR to test for variation among and within breeding systems. We measured 24‐h nectar secretion rate, amount, concentration and ratio of nectar sugars per flower, and sizes and number of flowers produced per plant from 24 varieties of OSR representing open‐pollinated ( OP), genic male sterility ( GMS) hybrid and cytoplasmic male sterility ( CMS) hybrid breeding systems. Sugar concentration was consistent among and within the breeding systems; however, GMS hybrids produced more nectar and more sugar per flower than CMS hybrid or OP varieties. With the exception of ratio of fructose/glucose in OP varieties, we found that nectar traits were consistent within all the breeding systems. When scaled, GMS hybrids produced 1.73 times more nectar resource per plant than OP varieties. Nectar production and amount of nectar sugar in OSR plants were independent of number and size of flowers. Our data show that floral traits of glasshouse‐grown OSR differed among breeding systems, suggesting that manipulation and enhancement of nectar rewards for insect flower visitors, including pollinators, could be included in future OSR breeding programmes.

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          Mass flowering crops enhance pollinator densities at a landscape scale

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            Species richness declines and biotic homogenisation have slowed down for NW-European pollinators and plants

            Concern about biodiversity loss has led to increased public investment in conservation. Whereas there is a widespread perception that such initiatives have been unsuccessful, there are few quantitative tests of this perception. Here, we evaluate whether rates of biodiversity change have altered in recent decades in three European countries (Great Britain, Netherlands and Belgium) for plants and flower visiting insects. We compared four 20-year periods, comparing periods of rapid land-use intensification and natural habitat loss (1930–1990) with a period of increased conservation investment (post-1990). We found that extensive species richness loss and biotic homogenisation occurred before 1990, whereas these negative trends became substantially less accentuated during recent decades, being partially reversed for certain taxa (e.g. bees in Great Britain and Netherlands). These results highlight the potential to maintain or even restore current species assemblages (which despite past extinctions are still of great conservation value), at least in regions where large-scale land-use intensification and natural habitat loss has ceased.
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              Historical nectar assessment reveals the fall and rise of Britain in bloom

              Summary There is considerable concern over declines in insect pollinator communities and potential impacts on the pollination of crops and wildflowers 1–4 . Among the multiple pressures facing pollinators 2–4 , decreasing floral resources due to habitat loss and degradation has been suggested as a key contributing factor 2–8 . However, a lack of quantitative data has hampered testing for historical changes in floral resources. Here we show that overall floral rewards can be estimated at a national scale by combining vegetation surveys and direct nectar measurements. We find evidence for substantial losses in nectar resources in England and Wales between the 1930s and 1970s; however, total nectar provision in Great Britain as a whole had stabilised by 1978, and increased from 1998 to 2007. These findings concur with trends in pollinator diversity, which declined in the mid-20th century 9 but stabilised more recently 10 . The diversity of nectar sources declined from 1978 to 1990 but stabilised thereafter at low levels, with four plant species accounting for over 50% of national nectar provision in 2007. Calcareous grassland, broadleaved woodland and neutral grassland are the habitats that produce the greatest amount of nectar per unit area from the most diverse sources, whereas arable land is the poorest in both respects. While agri-environment schemes add resources to arable landscapes, their national contribution is low. Due to their large area, improved grasslands could add substantially to national nectar provision if they were managed to increase floral resource provision. This national-scale assessment of floral resource provision brings new insights into the links between plant and pollinator declines, and offers considerable opportunities for conservation.

                Author and article information

                Glob Change Biol Bioenergy
                Glob Change Biol Bioenergy
                Global Change Biology. Bioenergy
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                10 March 2017
                August 2017
                : 9
                : 8 ( doiID: 10.1111/gcbb.2017.9.issue-8 )
                : 1370-1379
                [ 1 ] Rothamsted Research West Common Harpenden Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ UK
                [ 2 ] Royal Society of Biology Charles Darwin House, 12 Roger Street London WC1N 2JU UK
                [ 3 ] Centre for Behaviour and Evolution Institute of Neuroscience Newcastle University Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU UK
                [ 4 ] Environment and Sustainability Institute University of Exeter Penryn Campus Penryn Cornwall TR10 9FE UK
                Author notes
                [*] [* ]Correspondence: Alison J. Haughton, tel. +44 1582 938375, fax +44 1582 760981, e‐mail: alison.haughton@ 123456rothamsted.ac.uk
                Author information
                © 2017 The Authors. Global Change Biology Bioenergy Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

                This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                : 07 October 2016
                : 11 January 2017
                : 18 January 2017
                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Pages: 10, Words: 7921
                Funded by: BBSRC
                Award ID: BB/I000968/1
                Funded by: NERC
                Funded by: Wellcome Trust
                Funded by: Defra
                Funded by: Scottish Government
                Funded by: High Wycombe Beekeepers’ Association
                Original Research
                Original Research
                Custom metadata
                August 2017
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.1.4 mode:remove_FC converted:19.07.2017

                canola,cytoplasmic male sterility,floral traits,genic male sterility,hybrids,nectar,open‐pollinated,pollinator declines,rapeseed,sustainable intensification


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