International Study Reveals Importance of Pollinators for Seed Production in Plants

A study involving 21 scientists from five continents concluded that 175,000 plant species, or half of all flowering plants, rely mostly or completely on animal pollinators to make seeds. Specifically, a third of flowering plant species globally would produce no seeds without animal pollinators, and half would suffer an 80% or more reduction in fertility. This means that current declines in pollinator populations could cause major disruptions in natural ecosystems, including loss of biodiversity. Professor Mark van Kleunen, a co-author from the University of Konstanz, says it is not a case of all pollinators disappearing: “If there are fewer pollinators to go around, or even just a change in which pollinator species are most numerous, we can expect knock-on effects on plants, with affected plant species potentially declining, further harming animal species and human populations depending on those plants. Pollinators aren’t only important for crop production, but also for biodiversity….It also means that plants that do not rely on pollinators, like many problematic weeds, might spread even more when pollinators continue to decline,” he adds.