The value of pollinators for seed production
Farmer's Weekly|December 03, 2021
In a study to provide a global estimate of the importance of pollinators for plants in natural ecosystems, researchers from Stellenbosch University, led by Dr James Rodger, a postdoctoral fellow in mathematical sciences, found that, without pollinators, one-third of flowering plant species wouldn’t produce seeds at all.
Dr James Rodger

Approximately 175 000 plant species (half of all flowering plants) rely mostly or completely on animal pollinators to develop seeds and thus reproduce. A decline in pollinators could therefore cause major disruptions in natural ecosystems, including loss of biodiversity.

This is the finding of a paper titled ‘Widespread vulnerability of plant seed production to pollinator declines’, published in the journal Science Advances on 13 October 2021.

Dr James Rodger, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stellenbosch University (SU) and lead author, says this is the first study to provide a global estimate of the importance of pollinators to plants in natural ecosystems.

The study, involving 21 scientists affiliated to 23 institutions from five continents, was led by Rodger and Prof Allan Ellis from SU. It is a product of the Synthesis Centre for Biodiversity Sciences in the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.

Prof Tiffany Knight of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany, and a senior co-author of the report, says recent global assessments of pollination have highlighted a knowledge gap in our understanding of the degree to which plants depend on animal pollinators.

“Our synthetic research addresses this gap and enables us to link trends in pollinator biodiversity and abundance to consequences for plants at a global level,” she explains.

A GLOBAL FIRST

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