International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy
The Penn State Center for Pollinator Research hosted the fifth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy in Pennsylvania on June 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th (2023). The theme was understanding and leveraging networks to support pollinator health, from gene networks to ecological community networks, to scientific networks. This conference brought together individuals from universities, government agencies, industry, non-profit organizations, and several stakeholder groups.
Each full day of the conference featured two symposia, oriented on scientific developments. The symposia covered a range of topics, including mitigating the impacts of pathogens and parasites, deploying integrated pest and pollinator management to conserve pollinators and their ecosystem services in diverse landscapes, tools for monitoring and mapping biodiversity, principles and practices for designing biodiverse communities, and evaluations of the manifold impacts of climate change on pollinator and insect communities. Ongoing national and global initiatives in policy, education and extension have also been highlighted. The conference was preceded by a one-day course on pollinator conservation.
The conference was joined by all kinds of individuals, from multiple scientific backgrounds and perspectives, from genomics to ecology. In this way, the symposia all led to interesting and inspiring discussions.
Curious? The abstracts will give you some more information. You can find the abstracts here.
Pollinators in the global policy agenda
On behalf of Promote Pollinators, secretary Martijn Thijssen joined the conference. At the symposium on Education, Communication and Policy he gave a presentation about pollinators in the global policy agenda in conjunction with a presentation by Hien Ngo (FAO). Martijn gave an overview of the policy initiatives on pollinators at global and regional level as it is important to be aware of these efforts which often bolster and synergize national and subnational efforts (i.e., on the ground pollinator protection).
Latest news: in his presentation Martijn explained the European pollinators initiative and its relation to the European Nature Restoration Law. At the date of the conference, it was unclear whether this law would be accepted. It was accepted on the 12th of July. In later communications we will elaborate further on this.
Want to know more? Download the presentation of Martijn Thijssen here.
Saturday June 3rd
- Course: Pollinator Conservation
Sunday June 4th
- Symposium 1: Pollinator-Pathogen Networks
- Symposium 2: Managing Pollinators, Pests, and Plants in Diverse Landscapes
Monday June 5th
- Symposium 3: Principles and Practices of Biodiverse Communities
- Symposium 4: Monitoring and Mapping Biodiversity
Tuesday June 6th
- Symposium 5: Pollinator Health in a Changing Climate
- Symposium 6: Education, Communication and Policy
Some personal observations of Martijn
Obviously, it is impossible to give a full overview of the presentations and discussions here. So, we restrict ourselves to a few personal observations of Martijn (in non-specific order):
Penn State University has a dedicated pollinator garden.
There are 3600 species of bees in North America.
Forests are of high importance for pollinators. Queens need the ground level of a forest to make their nests, and flowering trees provide for a substantial quantity of pollen and nectar at the moment when pollinators most need them. E.g., a maple tree has 600 flowers per cubic meter of canopy.
Xerces society has guides for habitat assessment and installation. They also have a webbased Ecoregional revegetation assessment tool.
Xerces also has wonderful outreach material amongst which a program in which children can get badges when having completed specific activities regarding invertebrates.
Short chain food systems are potentially good for pollinators. In these short chain systems customers are more likely to be ok with small spots or other imperfections with the fruits they buy.
In the US it is still permitted to spray pesticides by airplane.
In one of the presentations, it was stated that 90% of the applied pesticides do not stay on the plants but end up in the environment.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in the US seems to have a different entry point as compared to the EU. In the presentations it seemed that reduction of pesticide-use is the entry point in the US, whereas in Europe the entry point is the use of the natural system. Although both visions in the end may have the same result, the pathways to that result are different. It would be interesting to learn about the average outcomes of the application of IPM in both US and Europe.
Infrastructure such as roads and railways as well as solar panel fields may have good beneficial circumstances for pollinators. Solar panel fields give a variety of sun/shade areas that are good for diversity of plants. However, there are plenty of barriers that make it difficult to ‘cash’ on these benefits.