Multiple forces have been at play that have been detrimental to pollinators including climate change, land use change, pesticide use, and more. There have been substantial declines in both the abundance and diversity of insect pollinators. There is increasing public awareness of this issue, but it hasn’t really risen all that high among many people’s concerns.
A new study by University College London looked at the effects of the global decline in pollinators on thousands of crop-growing sites around the world involving thousands of insect pollinator species.
About 75% of all crops grown depend on pollinators to some degree. The UCL research created a model that looks at which pollination dependent crops are most threatened over the next 30 years in order to provide a warning to both the agricultural and conservation communities.
The research indicates that the tropics are likely to be most at risk with regard to reduced crop production caused by pollinator losses. This is mostly due to the interaction of climate change and land use. The risks are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, northern South America, and southeast Asia.
These areas are where the world gets most of its coffee and cocoa, two crops that are near and dear to most of us. These crops, as well as others such as mangoes, play vital roles in both local economies and global trade and reducing them could lead to increased income insecurity for millions of small-scale farmers in these tropical regions.
If pollinator loss isn’t high up on your list of global concerns, perhaps you should think about it next time you have a cup of coffee or enjoy some chocolate.
Photo, posted May 23, 2013, courtesy of McKay Savage via Flickr.