More on Pollinator declines

We have a new correspondence article about bee declines that tries to walk the fine line between a non-helping pessimistic attitude about pollinator declines and an unrealistic optimism. As I said before, I think is easier to defend a black or white position about the pollinator crisis, but I think is time to discuss the grey areas. So here I go:

We show two straight forward things. First, that recent papers showing 50% of bee extinctions and papers showing moderate 15% declines (that’s our paper!) are not reporting conflicting results. Is just a matter of scale. Local scale extinctions in heavily altered habitats translate into population declining trends at the regional scale. To read it in positive, we are still on time to revert this declining trends, because the species are there!

Second, we show that not all species respond equally to global change threads, for example some species love agricultural areas. Most important, seems that the species that thrive in crop fields, are the ones responsable of increasing crop production, so the best current ecosystem service providers (a.k.a. bees that visit crops) may be not as threatened as other bees. But please do not take that as “we don’t have to worry at all”. This is the “grey area” where we need to be clear that highly intensified agricultural areas (e.g. huge almond fields in California) may still suffer pollinator shortages. Similarly, we are talking here about crop pollination, but there is a growing evidence that all species are important to maintain (and stabilize) ecosystem functioning in natural areas. So the good news are only partial.

Read it, is a very short piece and is Open access. If someone is curious about F1000Research, just two lines to say that we choose it for the flexibility of formats they allow, the speed of publication and because I was very eager to see how post peer review works. So far we had two very positive reviewers (which made the article indexed in less than 24 Hours!), but no more comments. Is also a short piece so maybe there is not much else to comment?

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One thought on “More on Pollinator declines

  1. Interesting analysis Nacho. It certainly chimes with the situation in Britain where the most common 6 bumblebees are doing very well and are very abundant, whereas the rest have declined significantly. I’m currently writing up an analysis of the pattern of British bee and wasp extinctions over the last 150 or so years (23 species in total). The results are quite intriguing and support the notion that it is large-scale agricultural changes which cause regional extinctions. I may well suggest you as a reviewer when we submit it :-)

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