From boosting production to maintaining biodiversity: Here are the multiple benefits of pollinators
Benefits of pollinators
(Image Credit: kathleenallen.net)
Would you like to see a bee or a beetle or even a butterfly on your meal by accidently? Probably, you will not because it gives an unpleasant feeling to you. But do you know? They play a major role as pollinators in the process of getting your meal into your hand. If these tiny guys disappear, you will not have a meal to eat.
What are the pollinators?
Birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are pollinators. As per the definition, pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved within flowers or carried from flower to flower by pollinating animals.
Pollination is one of the most important mechanisms in the maintenance and promotion of biodiversity and life on Earth. Pollinators and pollination are critical for food production and human livelihoods, and directly link wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems.
So let’s see the benefits of pollinators
1. Help 75% of crops producing fruits and seeds to pollinate
More than 75% of the world’s food crops depend, to some extent, on pollination. Pollinators help plants reproduce by transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Seeds can only be produced when pollen is transferred between flowers of the same species. Then only they become a fruit or a vegetable; actually plant babies and come into our plate. We don’t often consider them in this way, but seeds, fruits and some vegetables come from a plant that has been pollinated.
2. Increase and maintain biodiversity
Pollination is one of nature’s most important processes contributing to biodiversity. The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create offsprings for the next generation. As seeds have the ability to produce next generation, seed babies can only take birth when plants get pollinated. So pollination helps us to produce a wide variety of plants many of which are also food crops. So because of the pollinators do their job well, we can protect very rare plants for the future and maintain biodiversity. An estimated 90 percent of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollination for reproduction. And though often overlooked, bees and forest beekeeping also help sustain forest ecosystems as pollination helps in the regeneration of trees which in turn helps to conserve forest biodiversity.
3. Increase food production
Bees and other pollinating insects are improving the food production of 2 billion small farmers worldwide, helping to ensure food security for the world’s population. If bees and other insects stop pollinating plants, there will occur food scarcity. Apart from this, bees produce honey which is considered as a very healthy popular food and also a medicine.
4. Provide micro-nutrient rich foods
Many of the very nutritious, micronutrient-rich foods, like fruits, some vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils, would disappear without pollinators. So pollinators improve our diet by providing micro-nutrient rich foods.
5. Maintain ecosystems
Pollinators are vital to creating and maintaining the habitats and ecosystems that many animals rely on for food and shelter. Worldwide, over half the diet of fats and oils comes from crops pollinated by animals. They facilitate the reproduction in 90% of the world’s flowering plants. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife.
Though these tiny pollinators are very helpful for our life, we don’t pay much attention to them. Therefore, there has been a worrisome decline in the population of pollinators, especially bees and butterflies, mainly due to intensive agricultural practices, changes in land use, pesticides (including neonicotinoid insecticides), alien invasive species, diseases, pests, and climate change. So there is a need to think about this and do everything we can to save the lives of these tiny pollinators. We need pollinators and pollinators need us.