Health & Fitness University of Reading study the effects of pollution on pollination
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Scientists at the University of Reading say pollution could be reducing the pollinating abilities of insects by preventing them from sniffing out crops and wildflowers.
Whilst it was always known that diesel fumes could affect pollination - this latest research has replicated general pollution with results that have been described as 'worrying'.
Scientists from the University of Reading, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, and the University of Birmingham found that there were up to 70% fewer pollinators, up to 90% fewer flower visits and an overall pollination reduction of up to 31% in test plants when common ground-level air pollutants, including diesel exhaust pollutants and ozone, were present.
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Dr Robbie Girling, Associate Professor in Agroecology at the University of Reading, who led the project, said:
“We knew from our previous lab studies that diesel exhaust can have negative effects on insect pollinators, but the impacts we found in the field were much more dramatic than we had expected.”
Dr James Ryalls, a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow at the University of Reading, who conducted the study, said:
“The findings are worrying because these pollutants are commonly found in the air many of us breathe every day. We know that these pollutants are bad for our health, and the significant reductions we saw in pollinator numbers and activity shows that there are also clear implications for the natural ecosystems we depend on.”
The study, published in the journal Environmental Pollution, is the first to observe a negative impact of common air pollutants on pollination in the natural environment. The theory is that the pollutants react with and change the scents of flowers, making them harder to find.
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