By Claire Bernish
Having taken a backseat to any number of controversies surrounding the nascent Trump administration, pollinators should be back in the headlines — again painting a tragic portent for the future of the planet’s food supply — as an analysis found 347 bee species native to North America and Hawai`i “are spiraling toward extinction.”
In total, 700 bee species have been pushed to precarious footing by a web of threats, including increased pesticide use and severe habitat loss.
In “Pollinators in Peril: A systematic status review of North American and Hawaiian native bees,” the Center for Biological Diversity studied 4,337 native species to assess how the vital pollinators are enduring worsening, multi-fronted threats.
“The evidence is overwhelming that hundreds of the native bees we depend on for ecosystem stability, as well as pollination services worth billions of dollars, are spiraling toward extinction,”Kelsey Kopec, pollinator researcher at the Center for Biological Diversity and author of the study, toldEcoWatch. “It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming.
“The widespread decline of European honeybees has been well documented in recent years. But until now much less has been revealed about the 4,337 native bee species in North America and Hawaii. These mostly solitary, ground-nesting bees play a crucial ecological role by pollinating wild plants and provide more than $3 billion in fruit-pollination services each year in the United States.”
As if this news weren’t sufficiently grim, a second study published at nearly the same time by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found an unfortunately similar conclusion. Reports the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization…