What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity. If they go, we may be in serious trouble. — Dr. Lynn Dicks from Cambridge's Department of Zoology
What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity. If they go, we may be in serious trouble. — Dr. Lynn Dicks from Cambridge's Department of Zoology

Increasingly unusual climatic phenomena, such as extreme rainfall and temperature, are already affecting crops. Pollinator loss adds further instability -- it's the last thing people need. — Dr. Lynn Dicks from Cambridge's Department of Zoology
Increasingly unusual climatic phenomena, such as extreme rainfall and temperature, are already affecting crops. Pollinator loss adds further instability -- it's the last thing people need. — Dr. Lynn Dicks from Cambridge's Department of Zoology

Pollinators: First global risk index for species declines and effects on humanity
Disappearing habitats and use of pesticides are driving the loss of pollinator species around the world, posing a threat to 'ecosystem services' that provide food and wellbeing to many millions – particularly in the Global South – as well as billions of dollars in crop productivity.

The bees, butterflies, wasps, beetles, bats, flies and hummingbirds that distribute pollen, vital for the reproduction of over 75% of food crops and flowering plants -- including coffee, rapeseed and most fruits -- are visibly diminishing the world over, yet little is known of the consequences for human populations.

"What happens to pollinators could have huge knock-on effects for humanity," said Dr Lynn Dicks from Cambridge's Department of Zoology. "These small creatures play central roles in the world's ecosystems, including many that humans and other animals rely on for nutrition. If they go, we may be in serious trouble."

... The top three global causes of pollinator loss are habitat destruction, followed by land management -- primarily the grazing, fertilizers and crop monoculture of farming -- and then widespread pesticide use, according to the study. The effect of climate change comes in at number four, although data are limited.

Perhaps the biggest direct risk to humans across all regions is "crop pollination deficit": falls in quantity and quality of food and biofuel crops. Experts ranked the risk of crop yield "instability" as serious or high across two-thirds of the planet -- from Africa to Latin America -- where many rely directly on pollinated crops through small-holder farming.

"Crops dependent on pollinators fluctuate more in yield than, for example, cereals," said Dicks. "Increasingly unusual climatic phenomena, such as extreme rainfall and temperature, are already affecting crops. Pollinator loss adds further instability -- it's the last thing people need."


... "Pollinators have been sources of inspiration for art, music, literature and technology since the dawn of human history," said Dicks. "All the major world religions have sacred passages about bees. When tragedy struck Manchester in 2017, people reached for bees as a symbol of community strength."

"Pollinators are often the most immediate representatives of the natural world in our daily lives. These are the creatures that captivate us early in life. We notice and feel their loss. Where are the clouds of butterflies in the late summer garden, or the myriad moths fluttering in through open windows at night?"

"We are in the midst of a species extinction crisis, but for many people that is intangible. Perhaps pollinators are the bellwether of mass extinction," said Dicks.
Read the full article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210816112104.htm