The Global Plight of Pollinators

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Science  29 Mar 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6127, pp. 1532-1533
DOI: 10.1126/science.1235464

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Three-quarters of global food crops depend at least partly on pollination by animals, usually insects (1). These crops form an increasing fraction of global food demand (2). Given this importance, widespread declines in pollinator diversity (3) have led to concern about a global “pollination crisis” (4). However, others have argued that this concern is premature and that conservation action cannot yet be justified on the basis of deteriorating pollination (5). Are concerns of a pollinator crisis exaggerated, and can we make do with better management of honeybee colonies? Two articles in this issue provide compelling answers to these questions. On page 1611, Burkle et al. demonstrate that native wild pollinators are declining (6). On page 1608, Garibaldi et al. show that managed honeybees cannot compensate for this loss (7).