Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics vol:16 issue:3 pages:121-131
Urban land use strongly affects pollinators and plant pollination due to fragmentation and isolation of natural plant populations. On the other hand, urban land use can potentially be beneficial to pollinators through the presence of urban gardens and parks which are usually designed to ensure abundant flowering. However, little is known about the effects of urban land use on bees and the pollination services they provide. In an urban–peri-urban gradient around Leuven, Belgium we studied flower visitation rates to, and seed set of Trifolium repens (white clover) in public lawns. T. repens is an obligatory outcrossing plant and is therefore sensitive to reductions in pollinator services. We related our results to both local and regional variables using Boosted Regression Trees. The two variables that best explained the variability in visitation rates and seed set were the amount of green areas (gardens, parks, grasslands) in the surroundings and the abundance of T. repens in the lawns. Surprisingly, an increasing amount of green areas in the surroundings had a negative effect on both flower visitation rates to, and seed set of T. repens. Flower visitation rates by bumblebees responded positively to urban land use resulting in higher visitation rates and increased seed set in the more urban sites. This may point either to increased abundance of bumblebees in more urban sites or to a concentration effect of bumblebees in our urban study sites due to a lack of alternative forage resources. Responses will likely differ for other bee and plant species, but this shows that at least for T. repens, pollination is not compromised by urban land use.