Pollinators of all species have been challenged by the rapid growth of many factors caused by humans. Research shows that this tragedy of commons through people abusing this crucial service could be detrimental to multiple species, food sources, and our way of life. Pollinators provide many natural resources to humans, such as countless forms of food and fruits, and also roughly half of the Earth’s oils, raw materials, and fibers (Kovács‐Hostyánszki, 2017). Pollinators also provide multiple ecosystem services, such as the pollination of various plants, food security, and ecosystem/habitat security (Potts, 2016).
The stability of wild pollinators; pollinators found in our environment that pollinate various plants naturally, and the use of managed pollinators; pollinators that are produced in large quantities and used commercially for crop stability, is crucial to maintaining the world’s increasing necessity for large food quantities (Torres-Ruiz, 2013). Although the use of managed pollinators is useful in obtaining these large crop quantities, the number of managed pollinators is declining.
Therefore, focusing on creating and maintaining an environment that is suitable for wild pollinators is crucial in restoring this free service they provide to us (Veldtman, 2018). Many factors contribute to the loss of wild pollinators, however arguably the most important include habitat loss/degradation/fragmentation, pollution and pesticides, and climate change.
Habitat lose/degradation is the destruction of Earth’s ecosystems, particularly the loss of habitats for wild pollinators. Habitat loss can lead to fragmentation, the division of smaller and smaller areas to survive in, typically caused by human land (Haddad, 2015).
Habitat destruction is detrimental to wild pollinators and all animal species because it reduces their chance of survival greatly. Pollinator habitats are important in maintaining biodiversity, which is key to having the pollination of many different plant species (Haddad, 2015). A study used to represent the changes in historical forest habitats over time shows a great decline in the area from edge to edge of the ecosystem. The study of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, a largely deforested area for the last three centuries, shows the forests’ proportions farther than 1 km have decreased from 90% to 9% (Haddad, 2015). In another study taking into account the species richness of plants and insects, after 12 years of living in habitat fragments of less than 100-ha, arthropod species richness declined by 40% (Haddad, 2015). Clearly, due to this habitat loss and fragmentation, pollinator species will be drastically affected. Their survival and chances in natural selection are greatly reduced when not in a natural habitat that can sustain them. To combat these changes in habitats and their destruction, measures must be taken to stop the deforestation of these areas. Human land must also be reduced in these areas, to prevent fragmentation.
Pollution and pesticides affect wild pollinator loss greatly. The pollution of water, crops, soil and the atmosphere are all contributors to the extinction of pollinator species, and the use of pesticides and chemicals in these areas further declines species survival rates. Research done in Pakistan on cotton crops suggests that pesticides, mainly the residue of organochlorine, can be found in 70-85% of all cotton grown in the area (Shahid, 2016). In a study done on wild honey bees and the insecticide clothianidin, beekeepers reported an annual average loss of hive populations of 30% (Mogren, 2016). This is due to the honey bees’ ability to store fats, which is impacted by the use of this chemical. If the bees cannot gain adequate lipid levels by the Winter, they gain the risk of infections and declined reproductive capacity (Mogren, 2016). Honey bees and wild pollinators alike are essential in providing the pollination of multiple food sources for humans. If excessive pesticides and plant pollution continue to be utilized, the decline of pollinators will continue to drop. To prevent this, the use of pesticides and insecticides should be greatly reduced and used sparingly.
Climate change is extremely detrimental to wild pollinators and all animal species. Climate change is a naturally occurring event, however continued pollution greatly impacts the severity and rate of change. Food security is greatly impacted by climate change and is projected to decrease over time due to these rapid temperature changes. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), across the globe climate change is expected to impact cereal production per capita by a 14% decline by 2030 (Giannini, 2017). Across all crops in Africa and South Asia, and 8% yield loss is expected by 2050 (Giannini, 2017). In Brazil, a projected $2-5 billion dollar loss in crops will be suffered by 2070 (Giannini, 2017). All of these food sources and crop losses are due to the decline of crop pollinators, affected by climate change. An estimated 85% of crops require pollinators (Giannini, 2017). In a study done in Brazil, on tomato pollinators alone species populations are projected to drop between 10-70% in their distributional ranges by 2050 (Giannini, 2017). Climate change has and will continue to have an extremely destructive effect on pollinator species. This loss of pollinators will contribute to a loss of crops, and a loss of profit worldwide. To combat this, measures must be taken now to reduce climate change by creating less pollution, reducing the global carbon footprint, and bringing more awareness to the effects of a rapid change in our climate.
In conclusion, the effects of all three of these factors have a great impact on the decline of the Earth’s pollinator species. As shown in the study of species richness of plants and insects, arthropod and pollinator species will decline greatly over time due to habitat loss and fragmentation (Haddad, 2015). Similarly, in the use of pesticides and insecticides, the decrease in pollinator species can be proven through honey bee hive populations dropping 30% annually (Mogren, 2016). Finally, climate change, affected by both habitat loss and pollution, also contributes to the downfall of all species, including pollinators, shown by a drop of 10-70% in pollinator species projected to happen by 2050 (Giannini, 2017). It is time to make a change, and decrease these poor habits, such as deforestation, the use of pesticides, and reducing the carbon footprint, globally. If these precautions are not taken, the human race and the Earth as it is known could potentially be at risk.