Environmental Research Foundation  [Printer-friendly version]
August 4, 2006


Hi, Diana-- You probably saw this, but just in case not. --Peter


Pollinator Declines in Europe

Many agricultural crops and natural plant communities depend on
pollination by bees and other insects for reproduction. Now, a report
by Biesmeijer et al in the 21 Jul 2006 Science suggests that these
pollination "services" are on the decline in some parts of the world.

The team pored over nearly 1 million records of bee and hoverfly
observations from national databases in Britain and the Netherlands .
They divided the countries into 10 km by 10 km cells and then compared
pollinator diversity before and after 1980. Their analysis revealed
statistically significant declines in bee diversity across both
countries, though hoverfly trends were more variable. Interestingly,
bee and hoverfly specialists -- species that live in a narrow range of
habitats or pollinate only a few species of plants -- have experienced
greater relative declines than more generalist species. The team also
found that plant species reliant on the declining pollinators have
themselves declined relative to other plant species. As noted in an
accompanying news story by E. Stokstad, these data suggest a causal
link between pollinator and plant declines, but it is not clear which
is driving the trend or if both are responding to some other factor. A
co-author of the study discussed the possible causes and implications
of the trends in a related podcast 11 Megabytes, MP3.