fruit, vegetable, seed crops and other crops that provide fiber, drugs, and fuel are pollinated by animals. Bee-pollinated forage and hay crops, such as alfalfa and clover, also are used to feed the animals that supply meat and dairy products. Animal-pollinated crops generally provide relatively higher income to growers than do crops pollinated in other ways.

Over and above its direct economic value to humans, pollination by animals provides essential maintenance of the structure and function of a wide range of natural communities in North America, and it enhances aesthetic, recreational, and cultural aspects of human activity. In view of that economic and ecological importance, this report assesses the status of pollinators in North America, identifies species for which there is evidence of decline, analyzes the putative causes of those declines, and discusses their potential consequences. The committee’s statement of task is provided in Box S-1.

The first section of this summary addresses the status, causes of decline, consequences of decline, monitoring needs of managed pollinators, potential steps for managed pollinators’ conservation and restoration, and the committee’s recommendations (some in abbreviated form). The second section covers the same topics for wild pollinators. Detailed recommendations are provided in Chapter 7.


Statement of Task: Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America

The National Research Council’s Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America was charged to address the following questions:

  • To what degree, if any, are pollinators experiencing serious decline?

  • Where decline can be established by available data, what are its causes?

  • What are the potential consequences of decline in agricultural and natural ecosystems?

  • What research and monitoring are needed to improve information?

  • What conservation or restoration steps can be taken to prevent, slow, or reverse decline?

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement