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New paper in PLOS Sustainability and Transformation journal

Another journal paper to come out of my ongoing collaboration with Alan Dorin and colleagues at Monash University on agent-based models of pollination dynamics is published today in PLOS Sustainability and Transformation.

The paper’s title is Goldilocks’ quarter-hectare urban farm: An agent-based model for improved pollination of community gardens and small-holder farms.

The study explores the potential pollination impacts of insect flower constancy, heterospecific pollen transfer, and human-dictated crop patch size, using an agent-based model of insect pollinators foraging from two flowering plant species. Highly constant pollinators were most effective in the smallest patches when heterospecific pollen transfer was an issue. As patch size increased, pollination rates improved overall, but less constant insects produced better pollination rates for intermediate sized areas because they rapidly switched preferences between flower species. As patch size increased further, the influence of flower constancy on pollination rates was reduced.

Study results suggest that typical community farms containing small single-crop patches operated by independent growers within an allotment, may be better pollinated if operated collaboratively to increase single-crop patch size. Crop patches needn’t be large homogeneous agricultural monocultures, but neither should they be so small and heterogeneous as to inhibit pollination. We found a “Goldilocks zone” around 11m x 11m to be a good compromise for pollination, regardless of the level of flower constancy in local insects

Full details are available here.