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What specific plant traits support ecosystem services such as pollination, bio-control and water quality protection in temperate climates? A systematic map protocol



Agricultural intensification has increased diffuse source pollution within water catchments, reduced heterogeneity within the landscape and caused major declines in farmland wildlife, including birds, mammals, invertebrates and wildflowers. This increase in pollution and wildlife decline, has effected three vital ecosystem services, pollination, biological pest control and water quality protection. The morphological traits of plant species, such as floral display size and leaf area, provide support to these services and vegetative strips can be established with plants that have these desirable traits. Vegetative strips are widely used across Europe and integrated into government environmental schemes such as The Common Agricultural Policy and The Water Framework Directive. However, issues of land availability and food security require a sustainable intensification of current agricultural practices. One component of this process is to sow vegetative strips that are designed to support multiple ecosystem services. To do this, combinations of plant species that will support specific ecosystem services, have been designed. However, to enable a fully-informed design process, evidence must be collated on which specific plant traits provide the support to the target ecosystem services. We propose to systematically map all evidence on which specific plant traits provide support for three of the most vital ecosystem services, pollination, bio-control and water quality protection. Information from this map could inform future decisions on which plant species are suitable for inclusion within a multifunctional vegetative strip that aims to provide the target ecosystem services. The aim of this systematic map is to create a searchable database of studies that demonstrate evidence of plant traits and how they support the named ecosystem services.


Seven bibliographic databases, 25 organisational websites and 2 search engines, will be systematically searched with predefined and tested key search terms. All searches will be undertaken in English and only those undertaken in a temperate climate zone will be considered. Studies found will be screened at title, abstract and full text levels, recording the number of excluded articles. Following full text assessment, the meta-data of included studies will be incorporated into a systematic map database in Microsoft Access. A report will summarise the evidence, highlight any knowledge gaps, and provide recommendations for future research.


Pollinator, Beneficial invertebrate, Natural enemy, Buffer strip, Agri-environment scheme, Biodiversity, Multifunctional field margin, Vegetative strip

Who's in the review team?

Claire J. Blowers
Heidi M. Cunningham
Andrew Wilcox
Nicola P. Randall

At what stage is the review?

Registered - in progress

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