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  • Writer's pictureBruce Smith

Pollinators in Peril

Image of bee pollinating a flower. Insects are vital to the survival of our global ecosystem and the world is currently in a pollinator crisis.

'If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish." Jonas Salk


Eighty years after Salk's assertion, scientists understand these words, but governments do not.

Insects play a vital role by recycling nutrients, by decomposing plant litter and dung, and by providing a food source for birds, mammals, and amphibians. Insects are foundational to our own existence. For example, many flying insects are important pollinators.


The current pollinator crisis and its impact on food production first came to notice in many countries because of plummeting bee numbers. A complex of factors is causing this crisis. A new study published in PLOS ONE reviews the causes of declines--and serious knowledge gaps in our understanding of their impacts--in two groups of pollinators: butterflies and bees.


Changes in distributions and abundance of the many species that provide essential environmental services are sorely limited. To help fill data gaps, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation--an international nonprofit organization--works with diverse partners to foster meaningful long-term conservation. One of their many programs enlists volunteers in monitoring bumblebees. My wife Diana has found this a fun and rewarding activity which you can learn about at Xerces website.


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