Natural pollinators – It’s time we respect and maintain harmony with our little friends
The alarming rate of decline in the population of natural pollinators such as birds, bees, beetles, bats butterfly, could result in a great loss to food crops and other plant species all over the globe.
In this regard, the greatest of all scientists, Albert Einstein, put the importance of natural pollinators in the following words:
“If the pollinators disappeared off the surface of the globe, mankind would only have a few years left to live: no more bees, no more pollination, no more crops, no more animals, no more men.”
Pollinators are our friends; conserve them says ‘Dr VK Mattu from department of Bio Sciences, Himachal Pradesh University recognized for his valuable contributions’ in the field of bio sciences (Zoology), was regarded in the National Seminar on climate change & impact on biological community by the Indian Academy of Environmental sciences. In particular he is conferred gold medal for his findings to the cause of insect bio diversity, ecology & behavioral studies in particular.
His studies started to revolve around “Pollinators”. It says over 75% of the major world crops and 80% of all flowering plant species rely on animal pollinators of which 73% are bees & 19% flies and the rest are bats, beetles, birds, butterflies & moths.
Pollination is an essential ecosystem service that enables plant reproduction and food production for humans and animals. Food security, food diversity, human nutrition and food prices all rely strongly on animal pollinators. Along with providing an essential service to human populations, pollinators also have a key role in helping nature to adjust to external threats such as climate change.
Therefore, we must ensure that our native and managed pollinator population is maintained and protected.” He says
Birds, bees, bats and other species that pollinate plants life are declining at alarming rate which has threatened the existence of plant life and this downward trend could damage dozens of commercially important crops. He defines it as one form of global change that actually has credible potential to alter the shape and structure of terrestrial ecosystems and one indicator of the decline in natural insect pollinators is decreasing crop yields and quality despite necessary agronomic inputs.
Aesthetically pleasing butterfly species showed nearly a 40% decline in species diversity in California in three decades. Moths which are important pollinators in a variety of plant communities including night-blooming cacti, desert lilies, evening primroses, and wild tobacco are also under threat.
Global climate change also poses a real threat many other pollinators such as digger bees, sweat bees, alkali bees, squash bees, leafcutter bees, carpenter bees, mason bees and bumble bees; anecdotal evidence has suggested that some of the bumble bee species adapted to cool temperatures are in decline, whereas warmer adapted species are expanding their ranges.
There is a clear indication of decline in flower visiting flies in many parts of the world and the reasons for this are changing land use practices (habitat loss through mechanical destruction, fragmentation, fire, overgrazing, recreation etc.), Pesticides poisoning of pollinators, Enemies and Diseases, Competition between species and individuals induced by man and climate change.
This will lead to increased vulnerability of some plant species to extinction, although consequences are difficult to define in nonagricultural systems, some plant populations that are dependent on affected pollinators for reproduction could become more vulnerable to extinction. Decrease of bee population in environment may result in less effective pollination of native plant species and also decrease of crop yields up to 30% .
Climate change will have impact on native pollinators in agro ecosystems, especially bumble bees and solitary bees and their decrease will be in close connection to plant species extinction.
Thereby he concludes that time has come to recognize pollinators as guardians of the biological integrity of ecosystems and as a critical component to the nation’s economy. Many of our fruits, vegetables, and nuts, as well as other food products rely on pollinators for reproduction or to increase crop yields. Pollinators with their wide foraging range and collecting activities are valuable perennial mobile biomonitors of the local environment therefore there is a need to study well-documented cases of specific pollinator declines throughout the world and sustainable agriculture has to be promoted to mitigate climate change.