Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, visit flowers to harvest their nectar and pollen. They play a crucial role in flower reproduction, transferring pollen and fertilising flowers as they go from plant to plant.

Recent data shows pollinator numbers to be in decline, causing global concern. This is especially worrying for agriculture as at least 1/3 of the total volume of agricultural produce relies on pollination. This includes such everyday foods as fruits, nuts, beans and coffee. 

Insect pollinators also play a crucial part in wild food chains. An estimated 94% of the flowering plants in tropical regions cannot be pollinated any other way. This makes insect pollinators incredibly valuable, worth an estimated global value of 265bn Euros.

The declines are due to a wide range of threats including diseases, invasive species, habitat loss and climate change. The loss of 97% of the UK's wildflowers since the 1930s has made two bees locally extinct.  Central Europe, Northern Europe, the United States and Asia are all reporting losses. To reverse these declines managers must use holistic approaches that address all of these threats. 

CEH work on pollinators

Projects

The impacts of neonicotinoids on honeybees
 

Widespread drought-sensitive butterfly population extinctions could occur in the UK as early as 2050
Cuckooflower, cardamine pratensis
Insects and their interactions with plants
Inspecting Bombus terrestris hives in field trial
The impact of neonicotinoids, pathogens and disease on wild bees
Honeybees, image by Shutterstock
A large-scale, pan-European field experiment
The Opera House in Lille, the capital of French Flanders
UK and France come together in Lille for international conference
National Pollinator Strategy cover
CEH is one of two academic partners represented on the Stakeholder Advisory Group
Claire Carvell, Matt Heard and John Redhead of CEH put together a stand to highlight their research activities for the Insect Pollinators Initiative
So far the IPI projects have produced more than 40 research papers
Butterfly tennis balls: ShxA expression in 10 hour old embryos. Photo by Jean-Michel Carter
Melanie Gibbs explains butterfly embryos' sporty appearance

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