Widespread vulnerability of flowering plant seed production to pollinator declines

James G. Rodger, Joanne M. Bennett, Mialy Razanajatovo, Tiffany M. Knight, Mark van Kleunen, Tia Lynn Ashman, Janette A. Steets, Cang Hui, Gerardo Arceo-Gómez, Martin Burd, Laura A. Burkle, Jean H. Burns, Walter Durka, Leandro Freitas, Jurene E. Kemp, Junmin Li, Anton Pauw, Jana C. Vamosi, Marina Wolowski, Jing XiaAllan G. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite evidence of pollinator declines from many regions across the globe, the threat this poses to plant populations is not clear because plants can often produce seeds without animal pollinators. Here, we quantify pollinator contribution to seed production by comparing fertility in the presence versus the absence of pollinators for a global dataset of 1174 plant species. We estimate that, without pollinators, a third of flowering plant species would produce no seeds and half would suffer an 80% or more reduction in fertility. Pollinator contribution to plant reproduction is higher in plants with tree growth form, multiple reproductive episodes, more specialized pollination systems, and tropical distributions, making these groups especially vulnerable to reduced service from pollinators. These results suggest that, without mitigating efforts, pollinator declines have the potential to reduce reproduction for most plant species, increasing the risk of population declines.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabd3524
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalScience Advances
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2021


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