Laura Duque, Ingolf Steffan‐Dewenter

Air pollution: a threat to insect pollination

  • Ecology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Entomophilous plants rely on insects for pollination and consequently for reproduction. However, insect pollinators are facing multiple human‐driven pressures, from climate change to habitat loss to increased pesticide application. Anthropogenic activities have also led to critical increases in air pollution. A recent body of research focusing on the effects of air pollution on plant–pollinator interactions shows that air pollution might join the list of factors threatening insect pollination. Here, we examine the ways in which air pollution is thought to influence insect pollination, from potential mismatches between flowering and pollinator activity, to changes in pollinator attraction to flowers, to extensions in foraging periods. We consider the implications of these changes for plant reproduction and pollinator fitness and discuss how air pollutants are imperiling plant and pollinator communities. Finally, we define the questions that need to be addressed to better understand the impact of air pollution as a major driver of global change.

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