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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #246177

Title: Yes, we can! Detect pollinator declines on a global scale

item LEBUHN, GRETCHEN - San Francisco State University
item DROEGE, SAM - Us Geological Survey (USGS)
item CONNOR, EDWARD - San Francisco State University
item GEMMILL-HERREN, BARBARA - Food And Agriculture Organization Of The United Nations (FAO)
item POTTS, SIMON - University Of Rochester
item MINCKLEY, ROBERT - University Of Rochester
item Griswold, Terry
item JEAN, ROBERT - Indiana State University
item KULA, EMANUEL - Mendel University
item ROUBIK, DAVID - Smithsonian Tropical Research

Submitted to: Conservation Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2012
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Considerable concern has been raised concerning bee declines and the potential negative impacts of reduced numbers of pollinators on agricultural and natural environments. Yet there is currently no monitoring program in place that would detect such declines. A rigorous method to detect changes in bee populations is proposed that will detect small declines in bees over the relatively short time period of five years. Given the vital role of pollinators for food production, establishment of such monitoring programs is encouraged.

Technical Abstract: Recently there has been considerable concern about declines in bee communities, both in agricultural and natural habitats. The value of pollination to agriculture, provided primarily by bees, is > $200 billion US annually, and in natural ecosystems is thought to be even greater. However, because no monitoring program exists to accurately detect insect pollinator declines, it is difficult to quantify the status of bee communities, or estimate the extent of declines. We used data from multi-year studies of bee communities to develop a $2 million program to monitor pollinators at regional, national, or international scales. We estimate that a monitoring program based on 200-250 sampling locations would provide sufficient power to detect small (2-5%) annual declines in the number of species and in total abundance over a five-year period. To detect declines as small as 1% annually would require substantially more than 300 sampling locations and monitoring for as long as 10 years. Given the role of pollinators in food security and ecosystem function, we recommend establishment of integrated regional and international monitoring programs to detect change in pollinator communities. Our plan of action serves as a model for developing similar rigorous monitoring approaches, in the face of global environmental change.