Pollinator decline has no effect on global yields

Nature is reporting on a study that shows that “bees and many other insects may be in decline almost everywhere — but agriculture that depends on pollinators has been surprisingly unaffected at the global scale”. I have not seen the original paper, and I doubt that I am competent to assess it. But the report in Nature is intriguing. Using the FAO’s comprehensive dataset, Alexandra Klein and her colleagues observe no difference in yield patterns between crops pollinated by insects and other crops. There are other comparisons too, but the bottom line seems to be that local declines in yield with declining pollinators are not mirrored globally.

That’s no reason to relax, though.

Klein says her findings do not necessarily negate that idea that the world is in the throes of a pollination crisis. The data might hide how farmers have adapted to the problem, she suggests.

Nature goes on to suggest that a threshold-based catastrophe1 may be around the corner.

Anyone care to comment on Klein’s paper? Or has Nature got it entirely right?

  1. In the technical sense. []

2 Replies to “Pollinator decline has no effect on global yields”

  1. There are fewer honeybees in North America, but there is no documented global pollinator decline. So there is nothing in this study to be surprised of.

    And yes, many threshold-based catastrophes may be around the corner. Around the corner. That wonderful place where people can put their favorite “may be” things.

  2. I think there is too much noise in FAO agricultural statistics to do such studies. Just thinking about it, how much would be expected decline be? One percent? And how much of FAO’s statistics are really based on carefully designed, regularly updated, full-coverage census?

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