Document Type : Review Article

Authors

1 Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, Miami, FL, 33199, USA.

2 Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, 11200 SW 8th St, Miami, FL, 33199, USA.

Abstract

Weeds are widely seen in a negative light, as being unsightly and possibly pulling resources away from crop plants. Traditional farming practices use selected beneficial "weeds", however, to provide floral resources to beneficial insects and support them through added biodiversity within farms. The global annual economic value of insect pollination is enormous, with more than a third of all crops dependent on pollinators worldwide. This free ecosystem service is steadily declining as we face a global pollinator decline crisis in areas of intensive agriculture. The loss of natural resources through land conversion has decimated insect populations; therefore, there has been interest in enhancing pollinator populations by providing alternative non-crop resources to increase food production. Weeds may be useful in this goal, as they provide resources that attract and may maintain populations of pollinators. In this review, the possibility of using weeds in agriculture to increase floral resources for pollinators and crop yield will be examined. Weeds can provide extensive, free resources to insects, and understanding their interactions in agriculture needs more focus now than ever in changing environments. Fallow lands have always been used by insects and are an important part of their diets in fragmented ecosystems. Understanding their utility could help shape agricultural practices and ameliorate global pollinator decline.

Keywords

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