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Status of Pollinators in North America (2007)

Chapter: Front Matter

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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STATUS OF POLLINATORS IN NORTH AMERICA

Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America

Board on Life Sciences

Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) under Award No. 59-0790-3-201 and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) under Grant Agreement No. 03HQGR0131. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the USDA-ARS or USGS, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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Cover: Design by Van Nguyen. Photo credits clockwise from top left: hummingbird by W. May; sphinx moth by W. May; bat by Merlin D. Tuttle, Bat Conservation International, reprinted with permission; bee by David Inouye, University of Maryland, College Park.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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COMMITTEE ON STATUS OF POLLINATORS IN NORTH AMERICA

MAY BERENBAUM (Chair),

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

PETER BERNHARDT,

St. Louis University, Missouri

STEPHEN BUCHMANN,

University of Arizona, Tucson

NICHOLAS W. CALDERONE,

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

PAUL GOLDSTEIN,

Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville

DAVID W. INOUYE,

University of Maryland, College Park

PETER KEVAN,

University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

CLAIRE KREMEN,

University of California, Berkeley

RODRIGO A. MEDELLÍN,

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Mexico City

TAYLOR RICKETTS,

World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C.

GENE E. ROBINSON,

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

ALLISON A. SNOW,

Ohio State University, Columbus

SCOTT M. SWINTON,

Michigan State University, East Lansing

LEONARD B. THIEN,

Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana

F. CHRISTIAN THOMPSON,

Systematic Entomology Laboratory, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Staff

EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Study Director

FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director, Board on Life Sciences

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources

PEGGY TSAI, Associate Program Officer

KAREN IMHOF, Administrative Assistant

KATE KELLY, Editor

PAULA WHITACRE, Editor

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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BOARD ON LIFE SCIENCES

KEITH YAMAMOTO (Chair),

University of California, San Francisco

ANN M. ARVIN,

Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California

JEFFREY L. BENNETZEN,

University of Georgia, Athens

RUTH BERKELMAN,

Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia

DEBORAH BLUM,

University of Wisconsin, Madison

R. ALTA CHARO,

University of Wisconsin, Madison

JEFFREY L. DANGL,

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

PAUL R. EHRLICH,

Stanford University, Stanford, California

MARK D. FITZSIMMONS,

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, Illinois

JO HANDELSMAN,

University of Wisconsin, Madison

ED HARLOW,

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

KENNETH H. KELLER,

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

RANDALL MURCH,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Alexandria

GREGORY A. PETSKO,

Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts

MURIEL E. POSTON,

Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York

JAMES REICHMAN,

University of California, Santa Barbara

MARC T. TESSIER-LAVIGNE,

Genentech, Inc., South San Francisco, California

JAMES TIEDJE,

Michigan State University, East Lansing

TERRY L. YATES,

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

Staff

FRANCES E. SHARPLES, Director

KERRY A. BRENNER, Senior Program Officer

ANN H. REID, Senior Program Officer

MARILEE K. SHELTON-DAVENPORT, Senior Program Officer

EVONNE P.Y. TANG, Senior Program Officer

ROBERT T. YUAN, Senior Program Officer

ADAM P. FAGEN, Program Officer

ANNA FARRAR, Financial Associate

ANNE F. JURKOWSKI, Senior Program Assistant

TOVA G. JACOBOVITS, Senior Program Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
×

BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

W. REG GOMES (Chair),

University of California, Oakland

SANDRA J. BARTHOLMEY,

University of Illinois, Chicago

ROGER N. BEACHY,

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, St. Louis, Missouri

H. H. CHENG,

University of Minnesota, St. Paul

BRUCE L. GARDNER,

University of Maryland, College Park

JEAN HALLORAN,

Consumer Policy Institute/Consumers Union, Yonkers, New York

HANS R. HERREN,

Millennium Institute, Arlington, Virginia

KIRK C. KLASING,

University of California, Davis

BRIAN W. MCBRIDE,

University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

TERRY L. MEDLEY,

E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Wilmington, Delaware

ROBERT PAARLBERG,

Wellesley College, Watertown, Massachusetts

ALICE N. PELL,

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

BOBBY PHILLS,

Florida A&M University, Tallahassee

SONYA B. SALAMON,

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

HAL SALWASSER,

Oregon State University, Corvallis

PEDRO A. SANCHEZ,

The Earth Institute at Columbia University, Palisades, New York

B. L. TURNER, II,

Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts

LAURIAN UNNEVEHR,

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

JAW-KAI WANG,

University of Hawaii, Honolulu

TILAHUN D. YILMA,

University of California, Davis

Staff

ROBIN A. SCHOEN, Director

AUSTIN J. LEWIS, Program Officer

MICHAEL MA, Program Officer

PEGGY TSAI, Associate Program Officer

RUTH S. ARIETI, Senior Project Assistant

KAREN L. IMHOF, Administrative Assistant

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Preface

The magnitude and direction of all manner of anthropogenic global environmental change have lately come to dominate the national conversation: at the movies, on the Internet, and in the press. Entering the term “environmental crisis” on Google generates close to 52 million hits, and the debate is raging over the validity of various projections of consequences and diverse proposals for remediation. Of the multitude of ways humans could be harming the planet, however, one that has largely been ignored is the “pollinator crisis”—the perceived global decline in the number and viability of animal species that facilitate reproduction of flowering plants, the overwhelming majority of plants in terrestrial communities. In her hugely influential book Silent Spring published more than 40 years ago, Rachel Carson recognized the central role of pollinators. They are the proverbial birds and the bees, along with many other insect species and even a handful of mammals, that maintain human health and terrestrial biodiversity. Carson painted a bleak picture of a world with “fruitless falls.” In the intervening decades, reports have quietly accumulated from virtually every continent of shortages or extinction of pollinators of various descriptions.

Ironically, despite its apparent lack of marquee appeal, pollinator decline is one form of global change that actually does have credible potential to alter the shape and structure of the terrestrial world. Over the past decade, the public has begun to take notice and ask whether a pollinator crisis is brewing and, if so, what can be done to avert it. The National Research Council, in keeping with its charter to provide independent, objective analysis and advice on scientific matters of national importance, took on this issue at the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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Geological Survey and commissioned a study; overseeing the study process were the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Board on Life Sciences.

Because the efforts of pollination are so pervasive ecologically and economically, the committee charged with assessing the status of pollinators required representation of a breadth of interests and abilities. The 15 members came from across the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and their expertise encompasses ecology, population biology, ethology, genetics, evolutionary biology, botany, entomology, systematics, agricultural economics, apiculture, and conservation biology (Appendix A). The committee devoted more than a year to examining literature, meeting with the experts who are most familiar with the lives of pollinators, and meeting with people whose livelihoods depend on pollinator activities. Evonne Tang, Senior Program Officer for the Board of Life Sciences, labored brilliantly and tirelessly to arrange meetings, secure information, make contacts, and reconcile and edit numerous versions of the report. Fran Sharples, Director of the Board on Life Sciences, was generous with administrative, scientific, and moral support. From the Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Robin Schoen, director; Karen Imhof, administrative assistant; and Peggy Tsai, research associate, provided invaluable guidance, organizational effort, and logistical assistance in support of the project

It seems particularly appropriate that a study examining the health and well-being of the premier ecological mutualism on the planet should result from mutual respect and cooperation among a group of dedicated scholars. That the conclusions reached by the committee and presented in this report will inspire a rash of Hollywood disaster films is extremely unlikely—tidal waves, floods, fires, and explosions still remain inherently more cinematic than just about anything involving flowers, birds, bees, and butterflies—but it is to be hoped that the recommendations will inspire discussion and action nonetheless.

May Berenbaum

Chair, Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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Acknowledgments

This report is a product of the cooperation and contributions of many people. The members of the committee thank all of the speakers who attended its first committee meeting on July 6, 2005, the workshop on October 18–19, 2005, and the third committee meeting on January 14, 2006 and others who provided information and input. (Appendix B presents a list of presentations to the committee.)

This report has been reviewed in draft form by persons chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following for their review of this report:


Deane Bowers, University of Colorado, Boulder

Susan Mazer, University of California, Santa Barbara

Robert Page, Arizona State University

Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden

Malcolm Sanford (retired), University of Florida

Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota

James Thomson, University of Toronto

Nickolas Waser, University of California, Riverside

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2007. Status of Pollinators in North America. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11761.
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Don Wilson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Ada Wossink, North Carolina State University


Although the reviewers listed above provided constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Drs. Frederic L. Gould and Mary Jane Osborn. Appointed by the National Research Council, Drs. Gould and Osborn were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the author committee and the institution.

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Pollinators--insects, birds, bats, and other animals that carry pollen from the male to the female parts of flowers for plant reproduction--are an essential part of natural and agricultural ecosystems throughout North America. For example, most fruit, vegetable, and seed crops and some crops that provide fiber, drugs, and fuel depend on animals for pollination.

This report provides evidence for the decline of some pollinator species in North America, including America's most important managed pollinator, the honey bee, as well as some butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds. For most managed and wild pollinator species, however, population trends have not been assessed because populations have not been monitored over time. In addition, for wild species with demonstrated declines, it is often difficult to determine the causes or consequences of their decline. This report outlines priorities for research and monitoring that are needed to improve information on the status of pollinators and establishes a framework for conservation and restoration of pollinator species and communities.

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