A framework for comparing pollinator performance: Effectiveness and efficiency

Gidi Ne'Eman, Andreas Jürgens, Linda Newstrom-Lloyd, Simon G. Potts, Amots Dafni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Measuring pollinator performance has become increasingly important with emerging needs for risk assessment in conservation and sustainable agriculture that require multi-year and multi-site comparisons across studies. However, comparing pollinator performance across studies is difficult because of the diversity of concepts and disparate methods in use. Our review of the literature shows many unresolved ambiguities. Two different assessment concepts predominate: the first estimates stigmatic pollen deposition and the underlying pollinator behaviour parameters, while the second estimates the pollinator's contribution to plant reproductive success, for example in terms of seed set. Both concepts include a number of parameters combined in diverse ways and named under a diversity of synonyms and homonyms. However, these concepts are overlapping because pollen deposition success is the most frequently used proxy for assessing the pollinator's contribution to plant reproductive success. We analyse the diverse concepts and methods in the context of a new proposed conceptual framework with a modular approach based on pollen deposition, visit frequency, and contribution to seed set relative to the plant's maximum female reproductive potential. A system of equations is proposed to optimize the balance between idealised theoretical concepts and practical operational methods. Our framework permits comparisons over a range of floral phenotypes, and spatial and temporal scales, because scaling up is based on the same fundamental unit of analysis, the single visit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-451
Number of pages17
JournalBiological Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010


  • pollen deposition
  • pollen quality
  • pollination efficiency
  • pollinator effectiveness
  • pollinator performance
  • seed set
  • visit frequency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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