Pollinators in Decline — What Can Be Done?

Threats to pollinators are pervasive. Researchers have presented evidence that pollination systems have been disrupted and some pollinator populations are declining. Clearly, measures must be taken to document the actual extent of pollinator declines, especially among the poorly studied native insect pollinators. Concurrent steps should be taken to avert a potential pollination crisis.

A. Policy and Management. While no national strategy currently exists to deal with the pollinator declines, steps can be taken to strengthen and maintain efficient pollination systems. Some of the more notable approaches include:90

  • Improving agricultural practices and regulations that encourage, for example, targeted rather than broad-spectrum pesticides and the use of buffer strips.
  • Restoring habitat and species through effective land use planning policies and adaptation of existing farm support programs.
  • Reintroducing native plants and pollinators coupled with the removal of alien pollinators.
  • Valuing native diversity and promoting native gardens.

B. Research Needs. Scientific understanding of pollination dynamics and the consequences of diminishing pollinator levels is at best incomplete. Further research is needed to fill gaps in a wide array of pollination issues:

  • The relationship between pollinators and plant populations.
  • The effects of pesticides, grazing, logging, and suburban sprawl on native and feral pollinators.
  • The importance of declining pollinator populations and the potential for cascading extinction.
  • Identifying pollinators on the World Conservation Union’s endangered species list.
  • Competition among native and nonnative pollinator species.
  • Migratory dynamics of pollinators.
  • Pollinator specialization.

Resarch to identify economically important plant-pollinator relationships is also vitally important.91 92 93