The need for coordinated transdisciplinary research infrastructures for pollinator conservation and crop pollination resilience

Ignasi Bartomeus, Lynn Dicks

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There is a growing concern about the status and trends of animal pollinators worldwide. Pollinators provide a key service to both wild plants and crops by mediating their reproduction, so pollinator conservation is of fundamental importance to conservation and to food production. Understanding of the extent of pollinator declines is constrained by the paucity of accessible data, which leads to geographically- and taxonomically-biased assessments. In addition, land conversion to agriculture and intensive agricultural management are two of the main threats to pollinators. This is paradoxical, as crop production depends on pollinators to maximize productivity. There is a need to reconcile conservation and ecosystem service provision in agroecosystems. These challenges require coordinated transdisciplinary research infrastructures. Specifically, we need better research infrastructures to (i) describe pollinator decline patterns worldwide, (ii) monitor current pollinator trends, and (iii) understand how to enhance pollinator numbers and pollination in agroecosystems. This can be achieved, first, by redoubling the efforts to make historical data on species occurrences, interactions
and traits openly available and easy to integrate across databases. Second, by empowering citizen science to monitor key pollinator species in a coordinated way and standardizing, consolidating and integrating long term collection protocols both in natural and agricultural areas. Finally, there is a need to develop multi-actor, localised research infrastructures allowing integration of social, economic and ecological approaches in agriculture. We illustrate how decentralized infrastructures can accelerate the process of co-producing research and integrating data collection across scientists, managers, members of the public, farmers and disciplines. The time is ripe to harness the power of coordinated research infrastructures to understand and mitigate pollinator declines.
Original languageEnglish
Article number045017
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 17 Apr 2019

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