loss of ecosystem services  
line decor
   image: Manuel Anastacio
line decor

contact Lesley Starke las61@duke.edu with questions/comments

Why we care about pollination.

Around the world, 1 in 3 mouthfuls of food (including spices and condiments) is made possible with the help of pollination services (pollinator.org). This is even more amazing when you consider that the primary cereal crops (corn, rice, wheat, etc.) are capable of pollinating by wind without the need of insects or other pollinators.

Although cereals are produced in greatest quantity, the majority (70-80%) of crop species around the wrold must be pollinated; yet pollinators both wild and cultivated are in decline worldwide (Klein et al 2007 as cited in Gallai et al 2009). The global economic value of insect pollination to agriculture was equivalent to $191 billion in 2005 (Gallai et al 2009). In a growing world, food production is critically dependent upon pollination services both wild and cultivated.

Looking beyond agriculture, more than 100,000 different animal species—and perhaps as many as 200,000—play a role in pollinating the 250,000 species of flowering plants as calculated by Ingram et al. (1996). By far the most numerous of pollinators are insects, and the most well known are the bees. They are very important, but that is not to say they are the only pollinators. If the same pollination service were provided by a business or as a government service, it would come with a price; but instead, nature provides this work for free. Pollination is considered an ecosystem service.


Ecosystem Services


Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD):

SInce late 2006, there has been considerable attention to loss of bees- the widespread decline was named Colony Collapse Disorder and has been the topic of considerable research. For more information, see: EPA and here. image source




Humans have always made use of the environment around them, as time has passed, we have become increasingly sophisticated in how we manipulate and utilize the Earth, but we have not become less dependent upon it. There are many many unpaid natural processes from nature that we are utterly reliant upon. Pollination is one example: people have learned to capitalize from the relationship between pollinators and flowering plants and without their continuation, our needs go unmet- to name a few: food vegetable and fruit production. Other examples of ecosystem services include water filtration and purification of certain wetlands, also the provisioning of food and important pharmaceuticals.