Economic gain, stability of pollination and bee diversity decrease from southern to northern Europe

Sara Diana Leonhardt, Nicola Gallai, Lucas Alejandro Garibaldi, Michael Kuhlmann, Alexandra Maria Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Bees are in decline potentially leading to reduced pollination and hence production of insect-pollinated crops in many countries. It is however still unclear whether the consequences of pollinator shortages differ among countries with different environmental and societal conditions. Here, we calculated economic gains attributed to insect (particularly bee) pollination (EVIP) as well as their contribution to the total value of crop production (vulnerability), and analyzed their temporal trends and inter-annual variability from 1991 to 2009 for each country of the European Union (EU). To understand which factors drive country-specific differences in pollinator dependency and stability of insect-dependent crop yields, we further asked whether EVIP, vulnerability and stability of yields were influenced by a country's climate, the number of wild bee species and/or managed honeybee hives per country, and (agricultural) gross domestic product (GDP).Across Europe, crop pollination by insects accounted for 14.6 [±3.3] billion EUR annually (EVIP), which equaled 12 (±0.8)% of the total economic value of annual crop production. Gains strongly varied among countries. Both EVIP and vulnerability increased (and the inter-annual variation of vulnerability decreased) significantly from the colder northern to the warmer Mediterranean EU countries, in parallel with increases in the number of wild bee species. Across years, economic importance of pollination increased in all but three EU countries. Apples were the most important insect-pollinated crop in the EU, accounting for 16% of the EU's total EVIP. Our results show that whereas dependency on insect pollination increased from the colder north to the warmer south, variation in economic gain from insect pollination decreased, indicating that Mediterranean countries had more stable yields of pollinator-dependent crops across years and thus more reliable gains from pollination services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-471
Number of pages11
JournalBasic and Applied Ecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate
  • Crop pollination
  • Economic vulnerability
  • Ecosystem service
  • Honeybees
  • Stability
  • Wild bees


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