How to save POLLINATING INSECTS from extinction?

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In the face of the decline of pollinators, especially insects, there is no miracle recipe, explains Colin Fontaine, from the National Museum of Natural History. However, the more respectful practices of biodiversity that emerged in the 1990s seem to have slowed down this decline in populations. Be careful, however, he explains, because there is a decline in pollinator biodiversity, with some generalist species expanding at the expense of many others. A risky situation.

All the reasons for the decline of pollinators are not known but two of them are not in doubt: the artificialization of surfaces and the use of pesticides . Even if there is no miracle recipe, a decrease of one or the other will have positive effects.

But this reorientation of phytosanitary products or urban expansion will also have other impacts on the agri-food industry and the plant protection products industry. There is an arbitration to be done. Do we want agriculture to be less dependent on inputs ? It’s a political question.

Pollinator decline is slower

However, we note that this is a real trend. A UK study of bees over the previous century showed that the largest decline in pollinator populations occurred before the 1990s. This is after the Rio summit started to develop techniques that are more respectful of biodiversity . Since the 1990s, there is still a decline but it is lower, which proves that these practices have a positive effect.

All pollinator species do not decline. Some, even, develop. However, having many species that regress and some that multiply leads to a biotic homogenization, with in the end some generalist species. This is a risk because this low biodiversity is conducive to accidents , especially epidemics.

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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