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Insect Pollinators Initiative

Insect Pollinators Initiative

The Insect Pollinators Initiative supports projects aimed at researching the causes and consequences of threats to insect pollinators, and to inform the development of appropriate mitigation strategies.

It is a joint initiative between five organisations (see below) and is funded under the auspices of Living With Environmental Change.

Read the stories about this initiative on the LWEC website:

Maintaining a Healthy Buzz

Combined Pressures Threaten Pollinating Insects

Wake Up, Smell the Coffee and Buzz Off

The problem

Insects including honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies and moths are vital for the pollination of many cultivated and wild plants, including one third of the range of food crops grown globally.

They play crucial roles both in the production of agricultural and horticultural crops, and in the maintenance of biodiversity in natural ecosystems. Pollinating insects are vulnerable to pests, diseases and environmental change - threats that have increased over the last five to ten years. The steady declines of these insects over recent years raises significant concern about our ability to feed a growing world population set to reach 9 billion by 2050.

It is clear that there is no single factor responsible for pollinator declines. The causes are likely to be complex and involve interactions between pollinators, the environment and the pests and diseases that affect them.

The initiative

Each of the Insect Pollinators Initiative's five funding partners has a different mission and remit, but all share a common agreement that there is an urgent need for innovative research in this area.

Nine projects were announced in June 2010 that will look at different aspects of the declines of insect pollinators, and bring together researchers from many disciplines including ecology, molecular biology, mathematics, and computing. Some will focus on specific species and/or diseases; others will look broadly at factors affecting the health and survival of pollinating insects more generally. Visit the IPI public wiki or this BBSRC webpage for more information on the projects.


The Insect Pollinators Initiative aims to:

  • provide robust scientific information that can be used to inform future policy developments
  • inform the development of appropriate mitigation strategies to reverse the declines of insect pollinators by conserving wild pollinators and improving the husbandry of managed species
  • through knowledge exchange with a wide range of interested parties in the private, public and third sectors, ensure that the findings of the research are applied in relevant contexts
  • generate freely available data, many of which will be held at the Natural Environment Research Council’s Environmental Information Data Centre at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and accessible through the CEH Information Gateway (
  • generate scientific tools and resources that may be made available to the wider research community


Start and end date: July 2009 to 2014

Other Insect Pollinators Initiative partners:


Contact: IPI Science Coordinator: Adam Vanbergen

Articles: Planet Earth, the magazine of the Natural Environment Research Council, has published an article on pollinators called 'What’s the buzz?'. You can download a pdf below.

Wellcome News has published an article on pollinators called 'Protecting the pollinators'. You can download a pdf below.