Wild pollinator contribution to crop yield, a Comparison of landscape characteristics and their effect on seed set of Canola (Brassica sp.) in Alberta
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The agricultural production of canola in the Canadian prairies is expanding rapidly, with expected yields of 16 million tonnes per year by the year 2025. It will therefore become increasingly important to better understand the relationship between wild pollinators and semi pollinator-dependent crops like canola (Brassica napus). The ecosystems services that wild insects supply could potentially be disrupted by intensive agricultural land use. Biologically diverse landscapes are necessary to uphold insect guided pollination. The loss or dissociation of food or nesting opportunities connected to these landscapes is one of the main causal factors behind a recent decrease in wild pollinators. Most studies which connect canola yields and pollination services involve experimental designs which have input managed honey bee (Apis mellifera) into the agricultural system. To expand this body of knowledge, this study investigates whether wild insects play a role in seed setting in Canadian canola under real world agricultural production. We tested whether variance in seed set is attributable to parameters of the surrounding landscape by identifying any yield increases in seed sets of canola as a proxy for yield against contributions by surrounding landscape. Statistical analysis, via ANOVA, was used to check for variance between seed sets from plants found at point measured 20m and 200m into the field across six different canola fields. Findings suggest no variation between seed sets at different distances into the field however significant variance between different growers. Therefore, there may be an effect of different landscape and growing conditions on the final seed sets of large-scale canola cultivation.