Chapter 3 Pollinator declines

Learning outcomes

  1. Appreciate the relative importance of pollinators globally.
  2. Identify the links between pollinators, plants, and functional ecology.
  3. Explore one tool that can enable replicable solutions.


We need to eat. Pollinators provide many fundamental ecological services including interactions with plants that we use for crops and sustenance. Most flowering plants are not wind pollinated. This reading explores co-occurrence patterns between plants and pollinators to document long-term declines (Burkle, Marlin, and Knight 2013). Not great news. However, there are solutions - many. One of the most exciting to me is citizen science. Citizen science is a powerful tool for conservationists (McKinley et al. 2017). It is also profound because we are all citizens, together, and scientific thinking comes naturally to humans. We love to count, observe natural systems, and have strong inherent tendencies to connect with nature. This is a solution for many global grand challenges associated with the environment.

Reflection questions

  1. Does the species/taxa of pollinators matter?
  2. Citizen science can measure processes, but can it also be used to help conserve or protect or restore too?
  3. How can citizen science at universities be better enabled? How do we link what we learn with what we do?

Formative checklist or steps

  1. Read the paper.
  2. Consider the questions provided, to guide your thinking and practice implementing evidence to do magic (i.e. potentially use science to address challenges). These are not graded, and the purpose is to reflect and actively engage with readings.
  3. Review the slide decks (optional) after you read and consider the two papers to see if similar concepts resonated with you.