Fruit-loving bats help many plants reproduce. Overall, pollinating bird and mammal species are deteriorating in status, with more species moving towards extinction than away from it, the study found. Photo: Rolf Nussbaumer / NPL

By Matt Walker
4 March 2015

(BBC News) – Around the world, animals that pollinate flowering plants are in decline.

An increasing number of pollinating mammal and bird species are moving towards extinction, according to the first study of its kind.

Other, so far unpublished studies, also suggest that pollinating insect species are also heading towards extinction.

If these trends continue, say the studies' authors, key species will be lost, with potentially significant impacts on how ecosystems function.

The latest assessment is published in the journal Conservation Letters, by ecologist Eugenie Regan of the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, based in Cambridge, UK, and an international group of colleagues.

In their research, the scientists point out that animals pollinate more than 87% of flowering plant species, and humans use many of these plants for food, livestock forage, medicine, materials and other purposes.

A number of studies have indicated that pollinator numbers might be falling. But despite this, until now there has been no investigation of how they are faring at a global level.

On average, 2.4 species per year have moved one Red List category towards extinction in recent decades, representing a substantial increase in extinction risk across this set of species, report the scientists.

“These measures show which species are threatened with extinction and show that more and more species are becoming at risk of extinction over time,” Dr Regan told BBC Earth.

“In the real world, it means that pollinating species will become extinct and we will lose key, irreplaceable species in our ecosystems.” [more]

Pollinators in decline around the world


  1. Energyscholar said...

    Ummm. If pollinator species go extinct it seems like the ecological impact from this event is far more serious than just "we will lose key, irreplaceable species in our ecosystems". Loss of these species, globally, seems more on the scale of Ecocide. It certainly doesn't sound like the sort of extinction event that a certain bipedal mammalian hominid, one currently experiencing the Overshoot and Collapse dynamic on a global scale, would be likely to long survive.  


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