OSU helps establish roadmap for filling the gaps in forest pollinator research

October 31, 2018

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Actively managed conifer forests may also provide important habitat for the pollinators that aid the reproduction of food crops and other flowering plants around the globe.

An international collaboration, led by Jim Rivers of Oregon State University, has established a roadmap for future research aimed at better understanding the role that managed conifer forests in temperate zones play for the conservation of pollinators such as bees, wasps, flies, beetles and butterflies.

"Temperate forests comprise a large portion of the world's land base and to date we haven't really thought about them much in terms of habitat for pollinators," Rivers said.

It's important to do so because insect pollinators have an estimated $100 billion global economic impact each year, enhancing the reproduction of nearly 90 percent of the Earth's flowering plants, including many food crops.

Insect pollinators are also ecologically critical as promoters of biodiversity. Bees are the standard bearer because they're usually present in the greatest numbers and because they're the only pollinator group that feeds exclusively on nectar and pollen throughout their life cycle.

Many vertebrates such as birds and mammals also serve as pollinators, and worldwide, more than 100,000 animal species contribute to pollination.

"We know some managed conifer forests support wild pollinator populations," said Rivers, an animal ecologist with the OSU College of Forestry. "But there's a lot we don't know regarding pollinator diversity and the extent to which management practices affect pollinators and the ecosystem services they provide."

Rivers' team included researchers from OSU, the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insect Research Lab at Utah State, Washington State-Vancouver, the Forest Service's Southern Research Station in Athens, Georgia, and Switzerland's Bern University of Applied Sciences.

The scientists took a two-pronged approach to developing an agenda for filling in those pollinator knowledge gaps in temperate forests. They used input gathered from a daylong pollinator conference hosted by Oregon State University that brought together a range of scientists and land managers, and they also took a full inventory of the existing published research.

"The agenda we've come up with is for scientists, forest managers, conservation practitioners, and policymakers trying to balance production with pollinator conservation," Rivers said. "Our starting point is the Pacific Northwest, but the global footprint of managed conifer forests makes the agenda relevant worldwide."

The roadmap is built around three themes: Establish baseline patterns, assess the direct and indirect influences of forest management activities, and quantify the effects of management practices that follow natural disturbances like insect outbreaks or wildfire.

"There's a strong interest across the board, state and federal, as well as private industry and small landowners, in undertaking pollinator studies now," Rivers said. "And there's a compelling need for pollinator work - there's lots of information out there about other systems and we're just beginning to consider managed conifer systems. We don't have the answers yet but we're moving in that direction."
-end-
The research review and agenda was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Forestry.

Editor's note: Images are available at http://bit.ly/2QbmxsA and http://bit.ly/2RpQTrG.

Oregon State University

Related Conservation Articles from Brightsurf:

New guide on using drones for conservation
Drones are a powerful tool for conservation - but they should only be used after careful consideration and planning, according to a new report.

Elephant genetics guide conservation
A large-scale study of African elephant genetics in Tanzania reveals the history of elephant populations, how they interact, and what areas may be critical to conserve in order to preserve genetic diversity of the species.

Measuring the true cost of conservation
BU Professor created the first high-resolution map of land value in the United states.

Environmental groups moving beyond conservation
Although non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become powerful voices in world environmental politics, little is known of the global picture of this sector.

Hunting for the next generation of conservation stewards
Wildlife ecology students become the professionals responsible for managing the biodiversity of natural systems for species conservation.

Conservation research on lynx
Scientists at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and the Leibniz Institute for Molecular Pharmacology (Leibniz-FMP) discovered that selected anti-oxidative enzymes, especially the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD2), may play an important role to maintain the unusual longevity of the corpus luteum in lynxes.

New 'umbrella' species would massively improve conservation
The protection of Australia's threatened species could be improved by a factor of seven, if more efficient 'umbrella' species were prioritised for protection, according to University of Queensland research.

Trashed farmland could be a conservation treasure
Low-productivity agricultural land could be transformed into millions of hectares of conservation reserve across the world, according to University of Queensland-led research.

Bats in attics might be necessary for conservation
Researchers investigate and describe the conservation importance of buildings relative to natural, alternative roosts for little brown bats in Yellowstone National Park.

Applying biodiversity conservation research in practice
One million species are threatened with extinction, many of them already in the coming decades.

Read More: Conservation News and Conservation Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.