Ecological-economic modelling of interactions between wild and commercial bees and pesticide use
de Vries, Frans P.
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The decline in extent of wild pollinators in recent years has been partly associated with changing farm practices and in particular with increase of pesticide use. In this paper we combine ecological modelling with economic analysis of a single farm output under the assumption that both pollination and pest control are essential inputs. We show that the drive to increase farm output can lead to a local decline in the wild bee population. Commercial bees are often considered an alternative to wild pollinators, but we show that their introduction can lead to further decline and finally local extinction of wild bees. The transitions between different outcomes are characterised by threshold behaviour and are potentially difficult to predict and detect in advance. Small changes in economic (input prices) and ecological (wild bees carrying capacity and effect of pesticides on bees) can move the economic-ecological system beyond the extinction threshold. We also show that increasing the pesticide price or decreasing the commercial bee price might lead to reestablishment of wild bees following their local extinction. Thus, we demonstrate the importance of combining ecological modelling with economics to study the provision of ecosystem services and to inform sustainable management of ecosystem service providers.