A research talk about an expanding insect pollinators in the Anthropocene

Pollinating insects are essential for life, and today their survival is endangered by the hand of man, by pollution and by the climate crisis

by Lorenzo Ciotti
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A research talk about an expanding insect pollinators in the Anthropocene

Expanding insect pollinators in the Anthropocene is a study coordinated by Guillaume Ghisbain, Maxence Gérard, Thomas J Wood, Heather M Hines, Denis Michez and published on the Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society.

Pollinating insects are essential for life, and today their survival is endangered by the hand of man, by pollution and by the climate crisis. Although there is a consensus in the scientific community on the current presence of an era characterized by geological impacts that date back to anthropogenic activities, various proposals are being examined to establish the start date of this era.

Like every species, the Homo sapiens species with its advent has brought about changes in the eco-systemic equilibrium. In the early days, given the small number of the population and the use of simple technologies, the impacts were limited for millennia, followed by some performing accelerations with peculiar characteristics detectable in geological deposits.

The study researchers explain: "Global changes are severely affecting pollinator insect communities worldwide, resulting in repeated patterns of species extirpations and extinctions. Whilst negative population trends within this functional group have understandably received much attention in recent decades, another facet of global changes has been overshadowed: species undergoing expansion.

Here, we review the factors and traits that have allowed a fraction of the pollinating entomofauna to take advantage of global environmental change. Sufficient mobility, high resistance to acute heat stress, and inherent adaptation to warmer climates appear to be key traits that allow pollinators to persist and even expand in the face of climate change.

An overall flexibility in dietary and nesting requirements is common in expanding species, although niche specialization can also drive expansion under specific contexts. The numerous consequences of wild and domesticated pollinator expansions, including competition for resources, pathogen spread, and hybridization with native wildlife, are also discussed.

O verall, we show that the traits and factors involved in the success stories of expanding pollinators are mostly species specific and context dependent, rendering generalizations of 'winning traits' complicated. This work illustrates the increasing need to consider expansion and its numerous consequences as significant facets of global changes and encourages efforts to monitor the impacts of expanding insect pollinators, particularly exotic species, on natural ecosystems."