Role of Insect Pollinators in Crop Production and Ecosystem


Published: 2023-08-18

DOI: 10.56557/upjoz/2023/v44i183604

Page: 42-52

Shrawan Kumar Sahani

Department of Entomology, School of Agriculture, Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, Punjab, India.

Khushboo Chandra

Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, SGT University, India.

Indrajitsingh P. Girase

Department of Genetics and Plant breeding, SHUATS, Prayagraj, India.

D. R. K. Saikanth

Department of Agricultural Extension, CoA, PJTSAU, Rajendranaagar, Hyderabad, India.

Sarvendra Singh

Department of Agricultural Entomology, RMP PG College Gurukul Narsan District Haridwar Affiliated to SDS Uttarakhand University Badshahi Thaul, Tehri Garhwal, India.

G. Narayana Swamy

Department of Horticulture, KVK, Nellore, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, India.

Bal Veer Singh *

Department of Agronomy , C. S. Azad University of Agriculture and Techonolgy, Kanpur, U.P -208002, India.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Pollinators, particularly insects, play an indispensable role in ensuring the health of terrestrial ecosystems and in bolstering agricultural productivity. Their symbiotic relationship with plants has evolved over millennia, resulting in co-adaptations that facilitate the reproductive success of many plant species. This review sheds light on the multifaceted interactions between insect pollinators and plants, emphasizing their contributions not only in crop production but also in maintaining broader ecosystem services. The importance of insect pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, beetles, and flies, among others, is highlighted by their direct influence on the yield and quality of many crops. Notably, global agricultural sectors like fruits (e.g., apples and berries) and nuts (e.g., almonds) heavily depend on these insects for pollination. In economic terms, pollinators contribute substantially, with their decline potentially resulting in significant economic losses globally. Beyond agriculture, insect pollinators play a role in numerous ecosystem services. They aid in seed dispersal, ensuring gene flow and maintaining genetic diversity within plant populations. They act as crucial nodes in the food web, serving as prey for a plethora of species. They also indirectly support soil health by promoting the decomposition of plant matter, which enriches soil fertility and structure. Despite their importance, pollinators are under threat from various anthropogenic factors. Pesticides, habitat destruction, and climate change have been identified as primary drivers behind the decline of many pollinator species. Disease outbreaks and the proliferation of parasites further compound these challenges. Addressing these threats requires integrated conservation strategies. Practices like integrated pest management can minimize pesticide impact, while creating and maintaining pollinator habitats in agricultural and urban landscapes can provide refuges for these insects. Breeding programs targeting disease and parasite resistance and global collaborative efforts can further bolster pollinator populations. Investing in their conservation is not just an ecological imperative but also a socioeconomic one, ensuring food security for the growing global population. Emerging research avenues, such as genomic studies on pollinators, offer potential solutions and deeper insights into their resilience and adaptability. As the world grapples with escalating environmental challenges, understanding and supporting insect pollinators is paramount for a sustainable future.Insect pollinators

Keywords: Insect pollinators, agricultural productivity, ecosystem services, anthropogenic threats, conservation strategies

How to Cite

Sahani, S. K., Chandra , K., Girase , I. P., Saikanth , D. R. K., Singh , S., Swamy , G. N., & Singh , B. V. (2023). Role of Insect Pollinators in Crop Production and Ecosystem . UTTAR PRADESH JOURNAL OF ZOOLOGY, 44(18), 42–52.


Download data is not yet available.


Nonomura KI, Miyoshi K, Eiguchi M, Suzuki T, Miyao A, Hirochika H, Kurata N. The MSP1 gene is necessary to restrict the number of cells entering into male and female sporogenesis and to initiate anther wall formation in rice. The Plant Cell. 2003;15(8):1728-1739.

Samways MJ. Insects in biodiversity conservation: Some perspectives and directives. Biodiversity & Conservation. 1993;2:258-282.

Scheiter S, Langan L, Higgins SI. Next‐generation dynamic global vegetation models: Learning from community ecology. New Phytologist. 2013;198(3);957-969.

Kremen C, Miles A. Ecosystem services in biologically diversified versus conventional farming systems: Benefits, externalities, and trade-offs. Ecology and Society. 2012;17(4).

Samways MJ, Cardoso P, Deacon C. Conserving Insects. The Economics of Sustainable Food: Smart Policies for Health and the Planet. 2021;257.

Moya A, Peretó J, Gil R, Latorre A. Learning how to live together: Genomic insights into prokaryote–animal symbioses. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2008;9(3):218-229.

Nicholls E, Hempel de Ibarra N. Assessment of pollen rewards by foraging bees. Functional Ecology. 2017;31(1):76-87.

De Luca PA, Vallejo-Marín M. What's the ‘buzz’about? The ecology and evolutionary significance of buzz-pollination. Current Opinion in Plant Biology. 2013 ;16(4):429-435.

Smithson A, Macnair MR. Negative frequency‐dependent selection by pollinators on artificial flowers without rewards. Evolution. 1997;51(3):715-723.

National Research Council. Status of pollinators in North America. National Academies Press; 2007.

Bukovinszky T, Rikken I, Evers S, Wäckers FL, Biesmeijer JC, Prins HH, Kleijn D. Effects of pollen species composition on the foraging behaviour and offspring performance of the mason bee Osmia bicornis (L.). Basic and Applied Ecology. 2017;18:21-30.

Bernays EA. Interaction of insects and plants. Science Progress. 1992;1933:247-271.

Tasker P, Reid C, Young AD, Threlfall CG, Latty T. If you plant it, they will come: Quantifying attractiveness of exotic plants for winter-active flower visitors in community gardens. Urban Ecosystems. 2020;23:345-354.

Wardhaugh CW. How many species of arthropods visit flowers?. Arthropod-Plant Interactions. 2015;9(6):547-565.

Peris D, Pérez-de la Fuente R, Penalver E, Delclos X, Barron E, Labandeira CC. False blister beetles and the expansion of gymnosperm-insect pollination modes before angiosperm dominance. Current Biology. 2017;27(6):897-904.

Bronstein JL, Alarcón R, Geber M. The evolution of plant–insect mutualisms. New Phytologist. 2006;172(3):412-428.

Labandeira CC. The paleobiology of pollination and its precursors. The Paleontological Society Papers. 2000; 6:233-270.

Del Castillo RF, Argueta ST. Reproductive implications of combined and separate sexes in a trioecious population of Opuntia robusta (Cactaceae). American Journal of Botany. 2009;96(6):1148-1158.

Newton AC, Flavell AJ, George TS, Leat P, Mullholland B, Ramsay L, Bingham IJ. Crops that feed the world 4. Barley: A resilient crop? Strengths and weaknesses in the context of food security. Food Security. 2011;3:141-178.

Phan N. Bioassay development, pesticide risk assessment for integrated pest and pollinator management of the solitary bee Osmia cornifrons in Eastern US apple orchards and the international pesticide regulation. The Pennsylvania State University; 2021.

Smart MD, Otto CR, Carlson BL, Roth CL. The influence of spatiotemporally decoupled land use on honey bee colony health and pollination service delivery. Environmental Research Letters. 2018; 13(8):084016.

Sutter L, Albrecht M. Synergistic interactions of ecosystem services: florivorous pest control boosts crop yield increase through insect pollination. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2016;283(1824): 20152529.

Listabarth C. Palm pollination by bees, beetles and flies: why pollinator taxonomy does not matter. The case of Hyospathe elegans (Arecaceae, Arecoidae, Areceae, Euterpeinae). Plant Species Biology. 2001;16(2):165-181.

Peña-Kairath C, Delclòs X, Álvarez-Parra S, Peñalver E, Engel MS, Ollerton J, Peris D. Insect pollination in deep time. Trends in Ecology & Evolution; 2023.

Moir M, Anderson B. Pollen layering and male–male competition: Quantum dots demonstrate that pollen grains compete for space on pollinators. American Journal of Botany. 2023e;16184.

Schemske DW. Pollinator specificity in Lantana camara and L. trifolia (Verbenaceae). Biotropica. 1976;260- 264.

Rader R, Reilly J, Bartomeus I, Winfree R. Native bees buffer the negative impact of climate warming on honey bee pollination of watermelon crops. Global Change Biology. 2013;19(10):3103-3110.

Harborne JB, Grayer RJ. Flavonoids and insects. In The Flavonoids Advances in Research Since. Routledge. 2017;1986: 589-618.

Wilson P, Castellanos MC, Hogue JN, Thomson JD, Armbruster WS. A multivariate search for pollination syndromes among penstemons. Oikos. 2004;104(2):345-361.

Roth S. Attracting butterflies & hummingbirds to your backyard: Watch your garden come alive with beauty on the wing. Rodale; 2001.

Cairns JE, Sonder K, Zaidi PH, Verhulst N, Mahuku G, Babu R, Prasanna BM. Maize production in a changing climate: Impacts, adaptation, and mitigation strategies. Advances in Agronomy. 2012;114:1-58.

Smýkal P, Trněný O, Brus J, Hanáček P, Rathore A, Roma RD, Toker C. Genetic structure of wild pea (Pisum sativum subsp. elatius) populations in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent reflects moderate cross-pollination and strong effect of geographic but not environmental distance. PLoS One. 2018;13(3): e0194056.

Orłowski G, Karg J, Karg G. Functional invertebrate prey groups reflect dietary responses to phenology and farming activity and pest control services in three sympatric species of aerially foraging insectivorous birds. PLoS One. 2014; 9(12):e114906.

Hocking DJ, Babbitt KJ. Amphibian contributions to ecosystem services. Herpetological Conservation and Biology; 2014.

Kehoe R, Frago E, Sanders D. Cascading extinctions as a hidden driver of insect decline. Ecological Entomology. 2021; 46(4):743-756.

Stanley DA, Russell AL, Morrison SJ, Rogers C, Raine NE. Investigating the impacts of field‐realistic exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide on bumblebee foraging, homing ability and colony growth. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2016;53(5): 1440-1449.

Van der Sluijs JP, Simon-Delso N, Goulson D, Maxim L, Bonmatin JM, Belzunces LP. Neonicotinoids, bee disorders and the sustainability of pollinator services. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. 2013;5(3-4):293-305.

Donaldson J, Nänni I, Zachariades C, Kemper J. Effects of habitat fragmentation on pollinator diversity and plant reproductive success in renosterveld shrublands of South Africa. Conservation Biology. 2002;16(5):1267-1276.

Vranckx GUY, Jacquemyn H, Muys B, Honnay O. Meta‐analysis of susceptibility of woody plants to loss of genetic diversity through habitat fragmentation. Conservation Biology. 2012;26(2):228-237.

Sodhi NS, Brook BW, Bradshaw CJ. Causes and consequences of species extinctions. The Princeton Guide to Ecology. 2009;1(1):514-520.

Hegland SJ, Nielsen A, Lázaro A, Bjerknes AL, Totland Ø. How does climate warming affect plant‐pollinator interactions?. Ecology Letters. 2009;12(2):184-195.

Fand BB, Kamble AL, Kumar M. Will climate change pose serious threat to crop pest management: A critical review. International journal of scientific and Research publications. 2012;2(11):1-14.

Evans JD, Cook SC. Genetics and physiology of Varroa mites. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 2018;26:130-135.

Roberts J, Anderson D, Durr P. Upgrading knowledge on pathogens (particularly viruses) of Australian honey bees. Rural Industries Research & Development Corporation (RIRDC) Canberra; 2015.

Strand JF. Some agrometeorological aspects of pest and disease management for the 21st century. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology. 2000;103(1-2):73-82.

Ndakidemi B, Mtei K, Ndakidemi PA. The potential of common beneficial insects and strategies for maintaining them in bean fields of Sub Saharan Africa. American Journal of Plant Sciences. 2016;7(3):425-436.

Cuyno LC, Norton GW, Rola A. Economic analysis of environmental benefits of integrated pest management: A Philippine case study. Agricultural Economics. 2001;25(2-3):227-233.

Timberlake TP, Vaughan IP, Memmott J. Phenology of farmland floral resources reveals seasonal gaps in nectar availability for bumblebees. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2019;56(7):1585-1596.

Timberlake TP, Vaughan IP, Memmott J. Phenology of farmland floral resources reveals seasonal gaps in nectar availability for bumblebees. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2019;56(7):1585-1596.

Alison J, Botham M, Maskell LC, Garbutt A, Seaton FM, Skates J, et al. Woodland, cropland and hedgerows promote pollinator abundance in intensive grassland landscapes, with saturating benefits of flower cover. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2022;59(1):342-354.

Samnegård U, Alins G, Boreux V, Bosch J, García D, Happe AK, Hambäck PA. Management trade‐offs on ecosystem services in apple orchards across Europe: Direct and indirect effects of organic production. Journal of Applied Ecology. 2019;56(4):802-811.

Eliash N, Mikheyev A. Varroa mite evolution: A neglected aspect of worldwide bee collapses?. Current Opinion in Insect Science. 2020;39:21-26.

Kliem L. Strengthening agroecological resilience through commons-based seed governance in the Philippines. Environment, Development and Sustainability. 2022;1-33.

Jacobson SK, McDuff MD, Monroe MC. Conservation education and outreach techniques. Oxford University Press; 2015.

Kremen C, Merenlender AM. Landscapes that work for biodiversity and people. Science. 2018;362(6412):eaau6020.

Ejigu K, Gebey T, Preston TR. Constraints and prospects for apiculture research and development in Amhara region, Ethiopia. Livestock Research for Rural Development. 2009;21(10):172.

Bates AJ, Sadler JP, Fairbrass AJ, Falk SJ, Hale JD, Matthews TJ. Changing bee and hoverfly pollinator assemblages along an urban-rural gradient. PloS One. 2011;6(8):e23459.

Van Grinsven HJ, Erisman JW, De Vries W, Westhoek H. Potential of extensification of European agriculture for a more sustainable food system, focusing on nitrogen. Environmental Research Letters. 2015;10(2):025002.

Irz X, Lin L, Thirtle C, Wiggins S. Agricultural productivity growth and poverty alleviation. Development Policy Review. 2001;19(4):449-466.

Le Conte Y, Navajas M. Climate change: impact on honey bee populations and diseases. Revue Scientifique et Technique-Office International des Epizooties. 2008;27(2):499-510.

Tubb C, Seba T. Rethinking food and agriculture 2020-2030: the second domestication of plants and animals, the disruption of the cow, and the collapse of industrial livestock farming. Industrial Biotechnology. 2021;17(2):57-72.

Van der Sluijs JP, Vaage NS. Pollinators and global food security: the need for holistic global stewardship. Food Ethics. 2016;1:75-91.

Bello WB. Problems and prospect of organic farming in developing countries. Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management. 2008;1(1):36-43.

Kremen C, Merenlender AM. Landscapes that work for biodiversity and people. Science. 2018;362(6412):eaau6020.

Bosch J, Kemp WP. How to manage the blue orchard bee. Sustainable Agriculture Network, Beltsville, MD; 2001.

Kremen C. Ecological intensification and diversification approaches to maintain biodiversity, ecosystem services and food production in a changing world. Emerging Topics in Life Sciences. 2020;4(2):229-240.

Van der Niet T, Peakall R, Johnson SD. Pollinator-driven ecological speciation in plants: New evidence and future perspectives. Annals of Botany. 2014; 113(2):199-212.

Ebert D, Fields PD. Host–parasite co-evolution and its genomic signature. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2020;21(12): 754-768.

Pashkevich MD, d’Albertas F, Aryawan AAK, Buchori D, Caliman JP, Chaves ADG, et al. Nine actions to successfully restore tropical agroecosystems. Trends in Ecology & Evolution; 2022.

Krishnan S, Moreau T, Kuehny J, Novy A, Greene SL, Khoury CK. Resetting the table for people and plants: Botanic gardens and research organizations collaborate to address food and agricultural plant blindness. Plants, People, Planet. 2019; 1(3):157-163.