Pollinators
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General - information about pollinators:

Picture of Pink-spotted hawk moth. Photograph by Dr. Robert Raguso.
The pink-spotted hawk moth (Agrius cingulata) visiting a blossom of Datura at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Hawk Moths or Sphinx Moths were featured as the U.S. Forest Service's "Pollinator of the Month." Photograph by Dr. Robert Raguso.

U.S. Forest Service – Celebrating Wildflowers! Pollinator pages
Arizona – Sonora Desert Museum: Migratory Pollinators
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign
Pollinator.org
The Xerces Society – Pollinator Conservation Program

Status of Pollinators:

National Academy of Science’s Report - Status of Pollinators in North America

Bee biology:
The Xerces Society – Pollinator Conservation Program – Biology and Life Cycles of Our Native Bees

U.S. Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership – Bee Basics

U.S. Forest Service - More about Bees

USDA – Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership with Funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - Bumble bee Guides –
Eastern U.S.
Western U.S.

Monarch Butterflies:

Federal interagency monarch butterfly website
Monarch Butterflies Resources
Monarch Joint Venture
Monarch Watch
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign – Protecting Monarchs
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More Facts About Pollinators:

  • More than 100,000 different animal species - and perhaps as many as 200,000 - play roles in pollinating the 250,000 kinds of flowering plants on this planet. Insects (bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, beetles) are the most common pollinators, but as many as 1,500 species of vertebrates such as birds and mammals serve as pollinators, including hummingbirds, perching birds, flying foxes, fruit bats, possums, lemurs and even a lizard (gecko) (Ingram et al., 1996).
  • Domesticated honey bees, which are commonly used to pollinate crops, have declined dramatically in recent years.  Parasitic mites were responsible for some of the declines, more recent declines are from Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).
  • Bees recover slowly from insecticide spraying and other disturbances because of their low fecundity (they are unable to reproduce rapidly or in great numbers) which also makes them more susceptible to local extinction (Tepedino, 1979). It may take 3 to 4 years for bumble bee populations to return to pre-pesticide application levels (Plowright et al., 1978 In Tepedino, 1979).
  • Many crops that would benefit in quality and quantity from more thorough pollination are not sufficiently pollinated because of heavy pesticide applications (Ingram et al., 1996). Income from harvests could increase by an estimated $400 million per year if pollinators were available in sufficient numbers (Pimentel et al., 1992 In Ingram et al., 1996a).
  • For migratory pollinators, such as bats, hummingbirds, and the monarch butterfly, the identification and protection of nectar corridors is important (Allen-Wardell et al., 1998). If nectar is unavailable anywhere along their migratory route at the time of migration, it could result in the death of part of the population (Buchmann and Nabhan, 1996). Nectar sources near areas where pesticides are sprayed may be tainted or, where herbicides are used, eliminated.
  • At least 3 bat, 5 birds, and 24 butterfly, skipper and moth, one beetle and one fly species in the United States that are federally listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended, are pollinators. It is unknown how many of the listed plants require pollinators. More on endangered pollinators.

Literature cited:

Allen-Wardell, G., P. Bernhardt, R. Bitner, A. Burquez, S. Buchmann, J. Cane, P.A. Cox, V. Dalton, P. Feinsinger, M. Ingram, D. Inouye, C.E Jones, K. Kennedy, P. Kevan, H. Koopowitz, R. Medellin, S. Medellin-Morales, and G. P. Nabhan. 1998. The potential consequences of pollinator declines on the conservation of biodiversity and stability of food crop yields. Conserv. Biol. 12 (1): 8-17.

Buchmann, S.L. and G.P. Nabhan. 1996. The Forgotten Pollinators. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America, National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America, National Academies Press, Washington, DC

del Moral, R. and L. A. Standley. 1979. Pollination of angiosperms in contrasting coniferous forests. Amer. J. Bot. 66: 26-35.

Heithaus, E.R. 1974. The role of plant-pollinator interactions in determining community structure. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 61:675-691.

Ingram, M., G.P. Nabhan, and S.L Buchmann. Our Forgotten Pollinators: Protecting the Birds and Bees. Global Pesticide Campaigner, Volume 6, Number 4, December 1996, PANNA, San Francisco, CA, http://www.pmac.net/birdbee.htm.

Ingram, M., G.P. Nabhan, and S.L. Buchmann (with assistance from the Board of Advisors of the Forgotten Pollinators). 1996a. Ten essential reasons to protect the birds and the bees. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tuscon, AZ.

Ingram, M. G.P. Nabhan, S. Buchmann. 1996b. Impending pollination crisis threatens biodiversity and agriculture. Tropinet 7:1.

Moldenke, A.R. 1975. Niche specialization and species diversity along a California transect. Oecologia 21: 219-242.

Pimentel, D., H. Acquay, M. Biltonen, P. Rice, M. Silva, J. Nelson, V. Lipner, S. Giordano, A. Horowitz, and M. D'Amore. 1992. Environmental and economic cost of pesticide use. BioScience 42(10): 750-760.

Plowright, R.C., B.A. Pendrel and I.A. McLaren. 1978. The impact of aerial fenitrothion spraying upon the population biology of bumble bees (Bombus Latr.: Hym.) in southwestern New Brunswick. Can. Entomol. 110: 1145-1156.

Prescott-Allen, R. and C. Prescott-Allen. 1990. How many plants feed the world? Conserv. Biol. 4(4): 365-374.

Tepedino, V.J. 1979. The importance of bees and other insect pollinators in maintaining floral species composition. Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs 3: 139-150.

Watanabe, M.E. 1994. Pollination worries rise as honey bees decline. Science 265:1170.


Last Updated: November 4, 2013