The importance of pollinators

(c) Erin Udal

Pollinators are a critically important group of organisms. Pollinators perform a critical role in our wild ecosystems by passing pollen between plants. Pollen transfer is necessary as it carries the biological information of each plant. Pollination is required for fertilization of most plants, ensuring the production of seed for the next plant generation. In return for their visit, plants offer pollinators nectar as food reward. Pollinators and plants work together to support one another through this ongoing positive relationship called symbiosis.

It is estimated that over 2/3 of the food we use as food is dependent on a pollinator for this reason. Foods including fruits and vegetables – our main source of vitamins and minerals obtained through diet. By ensuring plant pollination, these unique creatures maintain biodiversity across landscapes which we and other animals depend upon.

80% of cross-pollination is achieved through the work of bees. Across British Columbia we have over 460 species of bees. However, little is known about this amazing diversity due to lack of long-term data. In 2018, NatureKids BC will be using our network to conduct citizen science surveys of wild pollinators and collect data through nature clubs. Both cities and rural landscapes present unique challenges for pollinators to co-exist with humans. By cataloging our pollinators across the province, we can begin to make informed conservation decisions and provide effective habitat support.