1. The interruption of plant-pollinator interactions may threaten global plant diversity, food security and ecosystem stability. Recent reports of strong declines in both insects and plants point to insect decline as a driver of plant decline. However, it is still unknown whether these trends are related as plants often produce seeds without the need for insect pollinators, and to what extent insect-pollinated plants have declined in relation to plants not pollinated by insects. 2. In this study, we hypothesise that natural plant communities have shifted away from insect-pollination. We combined 365,768 vegetation plots from 1930 to 2017 in the Netherlands and plant traits to assess the changes in occurrences of plants pollinated by different modes. Furthermore, we included key drivers in plant decline—specifically nitrogen, moisture and habitat types—as interaction factors to explore the persistence of the observed changes under different environmental conditions. 3. The proportion of insect-pollinated plants has declined while that of wind-pollinated plants has increased over the last 87 years. This proportional change reflects an absolute decrease in the number of insect-pollinated species and an increase in the number of wind-pollinated species. 4. Synthesis and applications. This study implies that Dutch landscapes are losing insect-pollinated plant species, which is likely due, at least in part, to the decline in pollination services. Our results of quantifying the decline in insect-pollinated plants support the necessity and urgency of taking conservation initiatives. Several management strategies and policy recommendations could be applied to alleviate the decline of insect-pollinated plants and ensure crop safety. For example, conserving natural environments by reducing nitrogen deposition may support local plants and insect pollinators. Additionally, there is a particular need for focused efforts to protect natural grasslands, as these areas harbour many insect-pollinated plants, which have experienced declines. Finally, monitoring and assessing the state of both pollinators and (insect-pollinated) plants is needed to assess the progress of conservation measures. While recognising the interdependence of pollinators and pollinated plants, it is crucial to extend efforts beyond pollinator conservation alone to effectively safeguard insect- pollinated plants and ensure crop safety.

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Journal of Applied Ecology

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Staff publications

Pan, Kaixuan, Marshall, Leon, de Snoo, Geert R., & Biesmeijer, K. (2024). Dutch landscapes have lost insect‐pollinated plants over the past 87 years. Journal of Applied Ecology, 2024. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.14649