Insect Pollinator Syndromes, various floral characteristics that correspond to generalized preferences and use patterns of seven types of insect visitors.
Insect pollinators are a rich and diverse group of species that have coevolved with plants to create biodiverse and productive landscapes that support ecosystem services. Bees, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, and even ants participating in moving pollen within and between flowers, assisting the reproduction of more than 80% of all flowering plants. The value of insect pollinators to ecosystems and economies is both large and immeasurable. One of three bites of food eaten is pollinated, and countless raw materials and natural products are the result of the visitation of flowers by insects. Yet, these keystone species face survival challenges driven by habitat loss, pests, disease, pesticides, and climate change. Conservation, restoration, and management seek to build back resilience into these systems, without which our world would be unrecognizable.
- ecosystem services
Pollination is the movement of pollen from the anther (male part) to the stigma (female part) of a flower. It is the manner in which seed plants, or
2. Evolution of pollination
2.1 Origins and the fossil record
Animal-mediated pollination evolved some 140 million years ago, when plants developed floral rewards in the form of nectar and pollen, along with attractive floral displays. Flowers evolved to attract animal visitors that would then spread pollen, in a targeted way, from one flower to another. The earliest pollinators were
Bees evolved somewhere between 140 to 70 million years ago from wasps that switched their feeding habits from a carnivorous diet of mostly other insects to pollen and nectar. The oldest fossil record of bees is a specimen of stingless bee,
The coevolution of plants and insect pollinators has resulted in mutualisms that are an incredible diversification of forms and functions as plants developed ways to ensure visitation, fidelity, and pollen transfer to secure their reproduction. From the plant’s perspective, attracting a visitor that will coincidentally get covered in pollen before visiting another food source was the first step in the development of tailored systems that allowed plants to produce fewer pollen grains. Flowers evolved as specialized structures to further attract insect visitors. This included elaborate shapes, scents, and colours. Scents and colours advertise flowers to pollinators looking for food in new landscapes.
The size and shape of the flower facilitates the transfer of pollen to the pollinator, with adaptations to each group. Complicated morphologies that squeeze, and in some chases trap, pollinators work to increase the chance of transferring pollen. Orchids are famous for specialized pollination systems, including trap pollination, as exhibited by
Concurrently insects evolved individualized morphologies and behaviours to increase their fitness and optimize their ability to capitalize on floral resources. Insects are likely pollen vectors, often possessing hairs or scales that pollen attaches to easily. Bees, the most effective and efficient pollinators, have branched hairs that often occur in dense aggregations called
3. Pollination systems
Over the last 120 million years, pollinators have diversified an incredible amount. Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and wasps have evolved to fill specific niches in the environment. The generalized characteristics of plant-pollinator systems are commonly described in pollination syndromes; predictive sets of plant morphology and phenology that align with the preferences of pollinators. Insect pollinator syndromes include bee and wasp pollination (melittophily); butterfly pollination (psychophily); moth pollination (phalaenophily); fly pollination (myophily and sapromyophily); beetle pollination (cantharophily); and even ant pollination (myrmecophily) (Table 1). Using the theory of pollination syndromes, Charles Darwin postulated that the pale and fragrant Christmas Orchid,
|Floral Trait||Colour||Shape||Nectar Guides||Odour||Pollen||Nectar||Bloom|
|Canatharophily (beetle)||pale/dull, white, green||large, bowl-shaped||none||strong fruity or foul||abundant||accessible nectaries||day|
|Melittophily (bees, pollen wasps)||yellow, blue, purple, ultraviolet||complex, disc, or tubular||present, obvious||fragrant, pleasant||abundant||abundant||day|
|Psychophily (butterflies)||red, pink, purple, bright||disc shaped, landing pad||present||strong and fragrant||limited||abundant, deep||day|
|Phalaenophily (moths)||pale, cream, white, yellow||tubular, with and without landing pad||none||strong and fragrant||limited||abundant, deep||day and night|
|Myophily (flies)||yellow, white||disc shaped||present||strong and fragrant||limited||abundant||day and night|
|Sapromyophily (carrion flies)||marron, green, dull||funnel or trap, small||none||strong and putrid||limited||absent||day and night|
|Myrmacophily (ants)||varied||open, small||none||none||varied||abundant, extra-floral nectaries||day|
3.1 Pollinator syndromes
Beetle pollination: With more than 380,000 species of beetles globally it is assumed that more than 90% of all pollinated plants have associations with beetles. Beetles may not be the primary pollinator, but their ubiquitous presence makes them important anthophiles. Flowers that are pollinated by beetles, or those that present characteristics to attract beetles, are commonly large; pale white, cream or green in colour; and have a heavy scent that is sometimes foul, mimicking carrion. Beetle bodies are robust and they are often clumsy, correspondingly beetle-pollinated flowers are often flat or disc-shaped. The pollen is easily accessible as beetles have minimal ability to handle and manipulate it. Beetles have been called destructive pollinators, visiting flowers to feed on floral parts, or the pollen directly. For this reason, many beetle-pollinated plants have extra protective structures around their ovaries. Pollen is the dominant reward produced by beetle-pollinated flowers.
Bee pollination: Flowers that are visited by bees have perhaps the greatest diversity in form. Bees often make use of open, disc-shape flowers, but are also able to access more complicated floral forms, even those that require complicated floral handling. For example, flowers in the pea family (Fabaceae) have a complex, asymmetrical morphology, with a keel petal that covers the opening and access to nectar and pollen. Both strength and persistence are required to access the floral rewards in such blossoms. Bee-pollinated flowers are commonly yellow, blue, or purple (Figure 1). They also commonly possess ultraviolet colouration as bees can see this part of the light spectrum. Many bee-pollinated flowers have nectar guides, areas of colour that highlight the location where they nectaries are located. Nectar guides focus pollinator effort and optimize pollination. Bee-pollinated flowers are heavily scented, allowing an additional chemical sensory way for bees to locate them. Although melittophily predominantly refers to bees, pollen wasps are attracted to the same set of morphological characteristics. Bees are specifically adapted to be the ideal pollinators. While most pollinating insects visit flowers to feed on nectar, accidentally getting covered in pollen, bees purposely collect pollen to feed their young. Nectar is a food source for adult bees, and this high-energy carbohydrate food powers their metabolically expensive flight. For this reason, bee-pollinated flowers provide abundant nectar and pollen.
Butterfly pollination: Flowers pollinated by butterflies are commonly disc-shaped or compound in structure to provide an easy landing pad. Members of the family Asteraceae are widely visited by butterflies. Butterfly-pollinated flowers are obvious and showy, usually pink, red, or purple, and they are highly scented. Unlike bees, butterflies can see the colour red, and correspondingly many of the flowers visited by butterflies are red. Butterflies feed on nectar using a proboscis and are looking for abundant nectar. Nectaries can be located in tubes or spurs that are accessible by this long proboscis. The anthers of butterfly-pollinated flowers are usually located in places that would deposit pollen on the heads or undersides of butterflies. It is common for butterflies to land on compound flowers and proceed to feed at multiple sites (Figure 2). Butterflies are sun-seekers that exhibit basking behaviours, enjoying flat flowers in sunny locations. A common group of specialized butterfly-pollinated plants are the milkweeds (family Apocynaceae, genus
Moth pollination: Flowers pollinated by moths share some characteristics with butterfly-pollinated flowers, including nectaries in deep spurs and attractive scents. Most moths are active in the evening, or at dawn and dusk (crepuscular), so their flowers are generally less colourful and more perfumed. Moth-pollinated flowers tend to be white or cream coloured. The amount of nectar produced is relatively high as many moths hover while they access their food and have a high metabolic demand.
Fly pollination: Pollinating flies that feed on nectar are attracted to a similar variety of floral types as bees are attracted to. Fly-pollinated flowers tend to display a diversity of colours and shapes, although they tend not to be as complex as those visited by bees. The scent emitted by these flowers is also usually quite fragrant and potent to aid flies in locating the flowers. Flies are nectar feeders, and fly pollinated flowers provide ample nectar.
Fly pollination by carrion or dung seekers: Less common than myophily, flowers pollinated by flies seeking animal flesh or dung as egg-laying substrates mimic these elements. They are heavily scented to mimic foul odours. The flowers can be small, colourless, or a dull purple/pink, with a sticky secretion. Trap-blossoms are also common. These flowers do not offer rewards; instead they trick the insect into visitation. A wonderful example of sapromyophily is the giant corpse plant, or titan arum,
Ant pollination: Ants are minor pollinators, and are not attracted to showy floral structures. In many cases the flowers of ant pollinated plants are small, often occurring in clumps. The flowers can be also located at the base of stems. The plants themselves are low-growing and accessible from the ground. Ants feed on nectar found inside of the flowers as well as on extra-floral nectaries. Ant-pollinated plants occur in arid or alpine environments. Examples of ant-pollinated plants include Small’s stonecrop (
3.2 Adaptations for pollination and flower visitation
3.2.1 Physical adaptations
Each arthropod pollinator group has a specific physical adaptation for accessing pollen and nectar. Most insects adapted to pollen collection are covered in hairs or scales. Bees are the most highly adapted to collecting and carrying pollen. Their bodies are covered in dense, bifurcated hairs that garb onto pollen. Many bees have dense aggregations of pollen-carrying hairs, called scopa, on their hind legs or the underside of their abdomen. The placement of pollen-carrying hairs can aid in general identification of bees. Members of the family Megachilidae (
The adaptations of other insect pollinators are specific to accessing nectar and pollen for food. Flies do not actively collect pollen, but are effective pollinators because they are covered in hair. Flies feed on nectar and access it through the use of a shortened set of sucking mouth parts. Nectar taken in this manner has to be shallow and accessible. Butterflies and moths are covered in scales, not only on their wings, but also on their face, thorax, abdomen, and even their legs. Pollen is transferred to these scales when they feed, and then transferred to another flower when they make another visit. Butterflies and moths feed on nectar accessed through a proboscis, which in some cases is extremely long in order to access nectar in deep nectaries. Beetles feed on pollen, collecting it with their mouthparts. Some have additional adaptations such as rows of dense hairs on their maxilla or labium, which act as a pollen broom that helps convey pollen into their mouth.
Pollen and nectar are the dominant rewards sought by anthophiles, but some also collect various oils, resins, and other substances. Bees in the genera
3.2.2 Behaviours that optimize pollen collection
Feeding habits vary greatly between insect pollinators, and even within genera, and species of each group. Some species exhibit specialization for one host plant species and are considered monolectic. Others forage on multiple species within one plant genus, a feeding habit that is termed oligolectic. A broader repertoire for multiple species in similar plant genera is called mesolectic. Some have a much broader repertoire and visit multiple species within multiple genera families and are considered polylectic to various degrees . Honey bees, which are considered broadly polylectic or generalist feeders, forage on a wide spectrum of food resources within a landscape. One-to-one specialized relationships where there is a single pollinator for a single plant, though interesting and highlight specialized, are rare. Research into pollination networks within ecosystems has shown that overlap and redundancy are much more common. Bipartite pollinator networks are useful tools to understanding how pollinators and plants within an ecosystem interact, building resilience and buffering against change (Figure 8) [6, 7, 8].
Some pollinators have specific behaviours they use to increase pollen collection. In some cases the coevolution of this mutualism has resulted in plants that are so specialized they can only be effectively pollinated by certain pollinators. Buzz pollination, or
Bees present the most refined versions of behavioural adaptations to optimize pollen and nectar collection. Flight is metabolically expensive, yet it is the dominant manner in which most insect pollinators find and access their food. Patterns in how pollinators work within and between flowers show both energy optimization through shortened flight patterns and minimizing efforts against gravity, as well as ways to increase the chance of finding nectar. Though they often search for sites of forage, bees are central-place foragers, meaning they tend to forage on food resources nearer to their nest site. For colonial species like honey bees and bumble bees, this means foraging near to their nest. For solitary species this means nesting near abundant food resources. Colonial species with an established nest in a dearth of resources will relocate.
When bees are foraging in a field, they focus the attention of an individual foraging trip on the same species of flower, even if they feed on a diversity of sources. Flight patterns are impacted by resource abundance as an adaptation to optimizing rewards. When flying through a resource-rich floral field they have been documented to make more turns in their flight, stopping more often to feed. In fields with less abundant resources, they fly straight more often, searching for abundant, localized forage. Bees that feed on a wide range of flowers also focus their foraging efforts on the most dominant species in the landscape, a strategy that targets rewards and balances energy expenditure. Optimizing forage to what is in bloom and providing the most nectar and pollen that day minimizes the flight time between nest and flowers and conserves energy. Energy optimization is used for resource seeking and floral selection. Bees tend to use complex floral resources that have vertical structure from the top down, again conserving energy by minimizing the needs to fly against gravity. This is most evident in tropical systems were bees are foraging on flowering trees.
The culmination of behavioural adaptations to optimize foraging is social communication and recruitment foraging exhibited by social bees, such as honey bees, stingless bees, and bumble bees. Bumble bees exhibit rudimentary communication through movement and wing vibrations that appear to signal that the arriving forager has visited profitable food resources. Honey bees and stingless bees have a complicated dance language, commonly called the waggle dance in honey bees. Thorough this dance they communicate the quality and location of food resources. Honey bees provide information on distance and direction, while stingless bees also provide information about the vertical plane in which food is found as many stingless bees forage in forest ecosystems.
4. Globally pollinator diversity
Globally there are estimated to be more than 1,000,000 species of insect pollinators. This includes nearly 800,000 beetles that are not likely to be the main pollinator of most plants, but are the dominant anthophiles.
Speaking to the most effective and functional pollinators, there are currently some 20,000 species of bees known globally. This diversity is represented by seven families: Andrenidae, the mining bees; Apidae, honey bees, carpenter bee, stingless bees, long-horned bees, and orchid bees; Colletidae, the plaster or cellophane bees; Halictidea, the sweat bees; Megachilidea, the leaf-cutter and mason bees; Mellittidae, the oil collecting bees, and Stenotritidae, the fast flying bees. Stenotritidae are only found in Australia; the other families are present across the globe.
Pollinating wasps include members of the subfamily Masarinae, which bare a visual resemblance to vespid wasps. Fig wasps, members of the family Agaonidae, are a diverse group of more than 900 species of tiny wasps that have a unique specialized pollination system with figs (genus
There are some 150,000 species of moths and 17,000 species of butterflies globally. Many of the relationships that butterflies have with flowers are more specialized, particularly those that include access to nectar in deep nectaries. Both butterflies and moths require host plants for their caterpillar development, in many cases the same plants that provide nectar to adults also serve as larval host plants (Figures 3–6).
Though there are roughly 160,000 fly species globally, a narrow spectrum of these species are pollinating anthophiles. The most common group of pollinating flies is the family Syrphidae, with nearly 6000 species. Syrphid flies, also known as flower flies, often resemble bees and mimic these species. Other pollinating flies include midges, such as members of the genus
Pollinating insects are present in all terrestrial ecosystems, with the exception of Antarctica. Patterns of diversity include both ecosystem types and geographic regions that have higher richness than others. Arid landscapes tend to have higher pollinator species richness, and though this might seem counter intuitive, these ecosystems are characterized by distinct seasonal patterns, often with short precipitation windows, and environmental extremes. This multitude of temporal niches has driven a diversity of pollinator mutualisms. For some species, such as bees, there are distinct biomodal patterns of richness, with far northern and far southern latitudes having less richness than mid-latitudes. In the case of bees, their niche is often filled by flies closer to the poles. This same pattern of declining richness and substitution of flies into bee niches is seen in alpine ecosystems as elevation increases. Meadow and prairie ecosystems are generally considered to be hot-spots of insect pollinator diversity, owning to the richness of flowers and open space. Conversely, temperate forest systems have previously been considered to be lower in pollinator richness, but recent evidence suggests that these systems are in fact abundant with species.
5. Nesting and other habitat needs
Pollinating insects have a diversity of nesting strategies and habitat needs for reproduction. Bees are famous for constructing nests; for social species this including building hives and constructing combs and brood chambers for their young. Honey bees, stingless bees, and bumble bees all produce wax which they use to build nest cells. Solitary bees have a more varied set of nesting strategies. The majority excavate nesting in the soil, creating chambers for brood. Some species make use of preexisting holes, lining them with various materials. Leafcutter bees cut and fold leaves to make nest cells. Mason bees collect mud to form their nests. Some bees excavate nests in the pith of plant stems, and some, like carpenter bees, are able to chew into wood. Solitary bees provision for their offspring, laying an egg that hatches, eats a pollen store, pupates, and then emerges as an adult.
Butterflies and moths lay eggs on host plants, their young emerge and eat the plant materials, eventually pupating, and emerging as adults. Pollinating flies lay their eggs in leaf litter or other substrates. Beetles have varied nesting lifestyles, including leaf litter and burrowing.
6. Agriculture and food production
Pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat [9, 10]. This corresponds to an enormous economic contribution that has been estimated recently to be upwards of 153 billion US dollars annually . Corn, wheat, and rice – the carbohydrate stables of most cultural diets – are wind pollinated, but nearly 80% of the crops that are cultivated across the globe require or benefit from pollinators . Pollinated foods provide the necessary and essential nutrients for the human diet, including foods high in antioxidants, as well as vitamins A, B, and C .
The major insect pollinators of agricultural crops are bees and flies, with other insect pollinators generally considered to play minimal roles in crop production. There are many crops, fruits, and spices that are pollinated by moths, wasps, and even beetles, especially in more tropical parts of the world. Butterflies, however, are not known to pollinate any crops.
Honey bees are famous in agriculture because they can be managed and moved between crops to pollinate what is in bloom. As generalist pollinators, honey bees will visit most crops, but they are not universally the ideal pollinator for each crop. Bumble bees are ideal pollinators for tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers as these crops require sonication, or buzz pollination. Squash bees,
Flies play key pollination roles in many crops, including staples such as cocoa (midges in the genera
7. Additional ecosystem services supported by insect pollinators
Food production and the reproduction of wild plants are considered critical provisional ecosystem services, without which the Earth could not exist in its life-supporting state. It has already been established that insect pollinators are critical to food production and plant reproduction . Additionally, insect pollinators are keystone in provisional, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services.
Hardwood products, fibers, textiles, dyes, scents, plant derived chemicals, and pharmaceutical products are the products of flowering plants that require pollination [15, 16]. Insect pollinators also have a role in maintaining reproduction in plants that fix and cycle nitrogen, such as legumes . Some of the very behaviours and lifestyles of these insects, such as ground nesting, promote soil aeration and nutrient cycling. About 60% of bee species nest in the ground, and this behaviour provides soil disruption . Vegetation that defines ecosystems, and buffers the impacts of severe weather and erosion is again commonly insect-pollinated. The California chaparral ecosystem is one example. Plant species responsible for soil stabilization along hillsides require pollinators for reproduction . A lack of pollinators and the eventual senescence of these species can cause vulnerability to landslides during annual wet periods. Similarly, coastal mangrove communities that provide protection during storm events need pollinators for reproduction [20, 21]. Tropical forest communities, which play significant roles in carbon sequestration, are dominated by pollinator-dependent species, with an estimate of nearly 95% dependence .
Cultural inspiration and spiritual enrichment is provided by ecosystems that depend on insect pollinators, as well as the pollinators themselves. Mayan artwork depicts the practice of
7.1 Managing insect pollination services
With the significant role that managed honey bees play in global food production their health and wellbeing a key concern for beekeepers, farmers, and governments. Today, honey bees are managed by beekeepers to maintain high quality colonies that meet minimum pollination contract requirements or that produce marketable amounts of quality honey for commercial markets. A conservative estimate of the history of beekeeping dates the practice at 5000–6000 BCE, with images on African pottery and Egyptian artifacts depicting the practice. Modern day beekeeping, the management of honey bees in hives with mobile combs, began in 18th century Europe. In the Americas, the Mayans practiced meliponiculture, keeping stingless bees in the genus
7.1.2 Other managed bees
Other managed bees include multiple species of bumble bees, which can be reared in boxed colonies and used in greenhouse and field pollination. A handful of solitary bees are also reared for commercial use. The alfalfa leafcutting bee,
7.1.3 Other managed insect pollinators
Many other insect pollinators and other bees are managed by providing nesting and feeding opportunities near to crops of interest. The establishment of floral resource strips near agricultural increases the occurrence of many species of solitary bees, as well as other insect pollinators such as flies, butterflies, and moths. In the case of some fly pollinators, such as those that pollinate cocoa, leaving leaf litter in plantations encourages nesting opportunities and is thought to boost populations and pollination.
8. Threats and challenges
Insect pollinators face survival challenges that stem from multiple, interacting factors. Habitat loss; pests and disease; invasive species; pesticides; and climate change all make survival more difficult for these essential species. These factors work both independently and in synergy to undermine the survival of insect pollinators, and the people and plants that depend on them.
8.1 Habitat decline
The primary threat to insect pollinators is habitat decline, both in terms of the available area, and in the richness of plant species available to feed on. Agricultural intensification, increased urbanization, and the extractive industry disturbs and removes habitat resources. Habitat loss reduces feeding opportunities by both reducing the amount and variety of food sources, and also reduces opportunities for nesting. When habitat loss increases fragmentation reproductive consequences can also occur, include narrowing genetics and reproductive isolation for both pollinators and plants .
8.2 Pests and disease
Pests and disease challenge the survival of pollinators, and have increased in their impacts as international travel, commerce, and industrialized agriculture provide increased opportunities for spread. So much of our agricultural productivity is dependent on the honey bee (
Pesticides and other chemical pollutants threaten insect pollinators, in some cases causing direct morality, and in others causing significant sublethal impacts that reduce pollinator function, cognition, and reproduction. The vast majority of targeted pests are insects, and correspondingly beneficial insects within these systems suffer. Most pollinator poisoning occurs when pollinator toxic pesticides are applied to crops during the blooming period. Poisoning of pollinators can also result from drift onto adjoining crops or plants, the contamination of drinking water, and the uptake of systemic pesticides that move through the soil by non-target plant species.
8.4 Invasive species
Invasive species, both plants and other insect pollinators, can alter local ecosystems, in some cases causing significant enough change that pollination webs are modified and individual mutualisms are impacted. Invasive plant species with aggressive, generalist growth patterns can become the dominate species in a landscape. This transition in landscape composition can mean rare resources of more specialized pollinators dwindle. The basic foraging biology of pollinators can also promote the establishment and spread of invasive plants. As generalist pollinators preferentially visit the most dominant species in a landscape, this can provide a feedback loop that exacerbates the issue. Non-native plant species that have not coevolved with the native pollinator fauna may present other challenges such as a phenological mismatch, floral morphology that is difficult to access, and variability in both pollen protein and amino acids and nectar sugar concentration.
Dietary variability can impact growth and reproduction in species that have coevolved with certain food profiles. Invasive arthropod pollinators have also been noted to cause stress on plant-pollinator systems, including competitive interactions with native species that could result in extirpation or extinction, or the transmission of new pathogens and diseases. There are multiple examples of non-native bees that have established outside of their range; they are commonly tube nesters that have been accidentally introduced. One such example is
8.5 Climate change
Climate change is a looming threat, impacting both insect pollinators directly, and changing the floral ecosystems these species depend on. Changes in richness and diversity; range changes and restrictions; changes in flight periods; as well as asynchrony between coevolved pollinators and plants are the primary concerns as the climate changes. As patterns of precipitation and temperatures change the range of conditions that define an appropriate niche for insect pollinators and their plants can change.
Overall patterns of pollinator richness have been predicted to change, which includes both increase and decreases in regional richness. For example, predictive modelling of butterfly richness in Canada in a climate change scenario showed decreases at the most northern and southern latitudes, but increase in richness at mid-latitudes . In some cases this will be a range contraction, and in some more severe cases extirpations and extinctions as species are pushed to the extremes for their biology and phenotypic plasticity. Historical museum records of bumble bee occurrence compared to current occurrence data showed a dramatic range restriction in United States .
The cues that trigger plant phenology, such as bloom and bud drop, are largely dependent on photoperiod, which remains constant as temperatures change. The maturation and development of insects is largely driven by temperature, with most species requiring a specific number of degree days to pupate and emerge as adults. The development of asynchrony between bloom and the emergence of insect pollinators is another threat; recent studies from Europe indicate that on average there been a two-day dissociation between plants and their pollinators in the past 30 years , with some pairings showing as much as 10 days, as is the case between blackcurrant and
9. Conservation actions
Pollinator populations are changing in response to a changing world. The previously mentioned list of threats and challenges has resulted in many insect pollinators being in decline, with many species listed as threatened or endangered. Extinctions in pollinator species have also occurred. When pollinators decline, the plants that they depend on, the productivity of ecosystems, and the services they provide parallel this trend . Conservation actions that aim to support arthropod pollinators include policy frameworks that protect natural areas, moving towards sustainable agricultural systems that include increasing non-crop forage, active programs to protect and boost populations of listed species, policy that works to reduce stressors such as pesticides, and climate positive actions. Key efforts seek to raise awareness of the essential roles that the small, often overlooked and misunderstood, species play in supporting our daily lives.