USFWS
Alaska Region
Conserving the Nature of America

Pollinators

Gardens in Alaska

Planting a new pollinator garden at our Tetlin Visitor Center.  Photo credit: USFWS/B. Johnson
Planting a new pollinator garden at our Tetlin Visitor Center.
Photo Credit: USFWS/B. Johnson

Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, or other animals, or by the wind.  The transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same species leads to fertilization, and successful seed and fruit production for plants.  Pollination ensures that a plant will produce full-bodied fruit and a full set of viable seeds.

Pollinators are critical components of ecosystems, aiding reproduction in over 75% of flowering plants, resulting in the production of seeds and fruits that provide food to many animals.  Pollinators also contribute to the U.S. economy; with honey bees alone contributing nearly $20 billion in 2010, to the value of agricultural crops.  

Plants and their pollinators have likely co-evolved over time.  All pollinators are not able to pollinate all plants. The pollinator needs to come into contact with the pollen when feeding on nectar, so flower shape may be limiting.  For example, plants with a nectar source deep within the flower have pollinators with a long tongue or proboscis (butterfly and moth mouth part), and some pollinators must have a place to land while feeding on nectar while others (e.g., hummingbirds) can hover next to the flower.  In other cases, pollinator preference, for a particular color or scent, may drive which species of plant they pollinate. 

In recent years, there have been notable declines in a variety of pollinators, including certain bumble bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and bats, as well as honeybees, in the United States.  For many other pollinators, especially insects, data on population distribution and trends does not exist.  Reasons for the decline of wild pollinators include habitat loss, decline and deterioration; pathogens; and disruption of migratory routes. 

Most flowering plants depend on bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other animals for pollination. Pollination is an essential part of plant reproduction, producing fertile seeds and, in some species, fruit.

In Alaska our pollinators include at least 95 bee species and 75 butterfly species!

Two fritillaries on yarrow in garden.  Photo credit:  USFWS/ N.Torre
Two fritillaries on yarrow in garden.
Photo Credit:USFWS/ N.Torre

 

Celebrate National Pollinator Week - June 20 - 26, 2016

 

Last updated: June 2016