Exploring the theme of pollinators for the 2024 AID calendar, Boise volunteer Aparna Limaye consulted Professor Ankur Patwardhan professor of Biodiversity in Pune University. He provided a fascinating collection of photographs from his personal collection and shared his insights on their significance.
Significance of pollinators
Pollinators play a crucial role in maintaining the health and stability of ecosystems. Pollination is not only necessary for the successful reproduction of plants, but also for building resilience within ecosystems. Health of pollinator populations is closely linked with the global food security. Nearly 90 % of world’s flowering plants are animal pollinated. Pollinators are responsible for enhancing or stabilizing the yields of approximately 75% of world’s food crops. Every third bite of food that we eat is a product of pollination. Without the pollinators, they would be unable to produce fruits and survive thereby affecting seed set and forest regeneration. Pollinators act as source and templates for many natural products. Pollinators add $217 Billion to the global economy. It is estimated that there will be drop in 4.7% of fruit & nut production and 3.2% of vegetables and there will be estimated 427,000 excess deaths annually from lost healthy food and associated diseases.
Insects as major pollinators –
It is estimated that around 200,000 different animal species engage in providing pollination services, with insects accounting for over 90% of them. Among these, butterflies rank closely behind honey bees as effective pollinators. Bees, in particular, are considered the most vital pollinators for both crops and wild plants. They are responsible for pollinating 56% of plant species, while butterflies and moths contribute to 11%, flies to 10%, beetles to 3%, birds to 12%, and wind pollination to 8%.
Urbanization, habitat loss, use of synthetic insecticides and fertilizers, invasive species and climate change are some of the factors that are affecting plant-pollinator relationships. In last decade there has been more than 40% decline in all insects. This has resulted in subsequent decline of frogs and birds. Insects underpin, often unseen and ignored, the essential processes of our world. Re-establishing pollinator-plant relationship has become an urgent priority for maintaining ecosystem balance and human well being.
Ankur Patwardhan is a university professor and entrepreneur. He heads the Annasaheb Kulkarni Department of Biodiversity at MES Abasaheb Garware Collegenk, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Pune, India .
Order your copy of the 2024 AID calendar here https://aidindia.org/parag-2024-aid-calendar/