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How much of the world’s food production is dependent on pollinators?

Rader, R., Bartomeus, I., Garibaldi, L. A., Garratt, M. P., Howlett, B. G., Winfree, R., … & Woyciechowski, M. (2016). Non-bee insects are importa

  • Rader, R., Bartomeus, I., Garibaldi, L. A., Garratt, M. P., Howlett, B. G., Winfree, R., … & Woyciechowski, M. (2016). Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(1), 146-151.

  • Rader, R., Bartomeus, I., Garibaldi, L. A., Garratt, M. P., Howlett, B. G., Winfree, R., … & Woyciechowski, M. (2016). Non-bee insects are important contributors to global crop pollination. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(1), 146-151.

    Rader, R., Howlett, B. G., Cunningham, S. A., Westcott, D. A., Newstrom‐Lloyd, L. E., Walker, M. K., … & Edwards, W. (2009). Alternative pollinator taxa are equally efficient but not as effective as the honeybee in a mass flowering crop. Journal of Applied Ecology, 46(5), 1080-1087.

    Jauker, F., & Wolters, V. (2008). Hover flies are efficient pollinators of oilseed rape. Oecologia, 156(4), 819-823.

    Blanche, R., & Cunningham, S. A. (2005). Rain forest provides pollinating beetles for atemoya crops. Journal of Economic Entomology, 98(4), 1193-1201.

    Jarlan, A., De Oliveiha, D., & Gingras, J. (1997). Effects of Eristalis tenax (Diptera: Syrphidae) pollination on characteristics of greenhouse sweet pepper fruits. Journal of Economic Entomology, 90(6), 1650-1654.

    Jarlan, A., De Oliveira, D., & Gingras, J. (1997). Pollination by Eristalis tenax (Diptera: Syrphidae) and seed set of greenhouse sweet pepper. Journal of Economic Entomology, 90(6), 1646-1649.

    Kendall, D. A., & Solomon, M. E. (1973). Quantities of pollen on the bodies of insects visiting apple blossom. Journal of Applied Ecology, 627-634.

    Larson, B. M. H., Kevan, P. G., & Inouye, D. W. (2001). Flies and flowers: taxonomic diversity of anthophiles and pollinators. The Canadian Entomologist, 133(4), 439-465.

  • van Strien, A. J., van Swaay, C. A., van Strien-van Liempt, W. T., Poot, M. J., & WallisDeVries, M. F. (2019). Over a century of data reveal more than 80% decline in butterflies in the Netherlands. Biological Conservation, 234, 116-122.

  • This is based on data collected in Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden.
    https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/daviz/european-grassland-butterfly-indicator-4.

  • ​​Cameron, S. A., & Sadd, B. M. (2020). Global trends in bumble bee health. Annual review of entomology, 65, 209-232.

  • Wagner, D. L., Grames, E. M., Forister, M. L., Berenbaum, M. R., & Stopak, D. (2021). Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(2).

  • https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/butterflies-in-the-wider-countryside-uk

  • Wagner, D. L., Grames, E. M., Forister, M. L., Berenbaum, M. R., & Stopak, D. (2021). Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(2).

  • Klein, A. M., Vaissiere, B. E., Cane, J. H., Steffan-Dewenter, I., Cunningham, S. A., Kremen, C., & Tscharntke, T. (2007). Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops. Proceedings of the royal society B: biological sciences274(1608), 303-313.

    Aizen, M. A., Garibaldi, L. A., Cunningham, S. A., & Klein, A. M. (2009). How much does agriculture depend on pollinators? Lessons from long-term trends in crop production. Annals of botany, 103(9), 1579-1588.

    Aizen, M. A., Aguiar, S., Biesmeijer, J. C., Garibaldi, L. A., Inouye, D. W., Jung, C., … & Seymour, C. L. (2019). Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence without a parallel increase in crop diversification. Global change biology, 25(10), 3516-3527.

  • I would myself argue that this might be better-expressed in terms of kilocalories rather than in tonnes. But I think in this case there are downsides to expressing it in kilocalories too. The biggest threat of losing pollinators is that it reduces our production of diverse crop types that we don’t typically rely on solely for calories: fruits, vegetables and other crops that provide us with important dietary diversity and micronutrients, even if we don’t get a lot of energy from them. Tonnes is not necessarily the perfect metric to capture this either: we might prefer vitamin-A, vitamin-C or another nutrient. In short, there’s not really a perfect metric to capture this, so I have stuck with the figures used in the original study: tonnes.

  • Aizen, M. A., Garibaldi, L. A., Cunningham, S. A., & Klein, A. M. (2009). How much does agriculture depend on pollinators? Lessons from long-term trends in crop production. Annals of botany, 103(9), 1579-1588.

  • Aizen, M. A., Garibaldi, L. A., Cunningham, S. A., & Klein, A. M. (2009). How much does agriculture depend on pollinators? Lessons from long-term trends in crop production. Annals of botany, 103(9), 1579-1588.

  • Aizen, M. A., Aguiar, S., Biesmeijer, J. C., Garibaldi, L. A., Inouye, D. W., Jung, C., … & Seymour, C. L. (2019). Global agricultural productivity is threatened by increasing pollinator dependence without a parallel increase in crop diversification. Global change biology, 25(10), 3516-3527.

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