The pollination of flowering plants by animals represents a critical ecosystem service of great value to humanity, both monetary and otherwise. However, the need for active conservation of pollination interactions is only now being appreciated. Pollination systems are under increasing threat from anthropogenic sources, including fragmentation of habitat, changes in land use, modern agricultural practices, use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, and invasions of non-native plants and animals. Honeybees, which themselves are non-native pollinators on most continents, and which may harm native bees and other pollinators, are nonetheless critically important for crop pollination. Recent declines in honeybee numbers in the United States and Europe bring home the importance of healthy pollination systems, and the need to further develop native bees and other animals as crop pollinators. The “pollination crisis” that is evident in declines of honeybees and native bees, and in damage to webs of plant-pollinator interaction, may be ameliorated not only by cultivation of a diversity of crop pollinators, but also by changes in habitat use and agricultural practices, species reintroductions and removals, and other means. In addition, ecologists must redouble efforts to study basic aspects of plant-pollinator interactions if optimal management decisions are to be made for conservation of these interactions in natural and agricultural ecosystems.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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