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Pollinators help one-third of the world's food crop production

Berkeley -- Pollinators such as bees, birds and bats affect 35 percent of the world's food crop production, increasing the output of 87 of the leading crops worldwide, finds a new study published today (Wednesday, Oct. 25), in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and co-authored by a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkeley.

The study is the first global estimate of food crop production that is reliant upon animal pollination. It comes one week after a National Research Council (NRC) report detailed the troubling decline in populations of key North American pollinators, which help spread the pollen needed for fertilization of such food crops as fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices and oilseed.

Of particular concern in the NRC report was the decline of the honey bee, a species introduced from Europe and a critical pollinator for California's almond industry. The report pointed out that it takes about 1.4 million colonies of honey bees to pollinate 550,000 acres of this state's almond trees.

In an effort to better understand how dependent crop production is upon pollinators worldwide, an international research team led by Alexandra-Maria Klein, an agroecologist from the University of Goettingen in Germany, conducted an extensive review of scientific studies from 200 countries and for 115 of the leading global crops.

Claire Kremen, an assistant professor at UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, is co-author of this new study.

"There's a widely stated phrase in agriculture that you can thank a pollinator for one out of three bites of food you eat," said Kremen, who is also a member of the Committee on Status of Pollinators that produced the NRC report and leader of a group at the National Center for Ecological and Analysis and Synthesis that co-sponsored the work. "However, it wasn't clear where that calculation came from, so we
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Contact: Sarah Yang
scyang@berkeley.edu
510-643-7741
University of California - Berkeley
25-Oct-2006


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