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A horizon scan of future threats and opportunities for pollinators and pollination

  • Author(s): Brown, MJF
  • Dicks, LV
  • Paxton, RJ
  • Baldock, KCR
  • Barron, AB
  • Chauzat, MP
  • Freitas, BM
  • Goulson, D
  • Jepsen, S
  • Kremen, C
  • Li, J
  • Neumann, P
  • Pattemore, DE
  • Potts, SG
  • Schweiger, O
  • Seymour, CL
  • Stout, JC
  • et al.
Abstract

� 2016 Brown et al. Background. Pollinators, which provide the agriculturally and ecologically essential service of pollination, are under threat at a global scale. Habitat loss and homogenisation, pesticides, parasites and pathogens, invasive species, and climate change have been identified as past and current threats to pollinators. Actions to mitigate these threats, e.g., agri-environment schemes and pesticide-use moratoriums, exist, but have largely been applied post-hoc. However, future sustainability of pollinators and the service they provide requires anticipation of potential threats and opportunities before they occur, enabling timely implementation of policy and practice to prevent, rather than mitigate, further pollinator declines. Methods. Using a horizon scanning approach we identified issues that are likely to impact pollinators, either positively or negatively, over the coming three decades. Results. Our analysis highlights six high priority, and nine secondary issues. High priorities are: (1) corporate control of global agriculture, (2) novel systemic pesticides, (3) novel RNA viruses, (4) the development of new managed pollinators, (5) more frequent heatwaves and drought under climate change, and (6) the potential positive impact of reduced chemical use on pollinators in non-agricultural settings. Discussion. While current pollinator management approaches are largely driven by mitigating past impacts, we present opportunities for pre-emptive practice, legislation, and policy to sustainably manage pollinators for future generations.

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