Collaborative Research: Quantifying the Critical Importance of Insect-mediated Pollination Service for the U.S. Economy

  • Grozinger, Christina C. (PI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


1603667 (Khanna) and 1605669 (Grozinger)

One of the critical ecological supporting services for the nation's economy is pollination provided by insects (both managed and wild species). However, in recent years, increased habitat loss, reduction in available forage sources, climate change, monotonous diets, stressful management practices and vulnerability to pests has placed heightened stress on pollinator species. Understanding the economic value of pollination services attributable to managed and wild pollinators will highlight the critical importance and dependence of the U.S. economy on pollinators, and the key role played by pollinators in sustaining human and industrial activity. Comprehensively assessing the economic contribution of pollinators will help provide a basis for setting priorities for their conservation. This project brings together highly complementary expertise in sustainability science and engineering (PI Khanna) and pollinator biology and health (PI Grozinger) for understanding and quantifying the direct and indirect economic dependencies of the U.S. economy on insect-mediated pollination services, and identifying the industry sectors and industrial communities (group of closely linked sectors) that are most vulnerable to reductions of insect-mediated pollination service.

In this project, a a novel framework will be developed for quantifying the direct and indirect economic dependencies of the U.S. economy and industry sectors on insect-mediated pollination service. The data and methods developed will be broadly applicable for evaluating the economic importance of pollination services to the world economy, as well as evaluating other ecosystem goods and services. The framework will help identify industrial sectors that are at most risks or likely to experience the most disruption arising from a reduction of pollination services. By quantifying both the direct dependencies of the agricultural sectors and the indirect economic dependencies of non-agricultural of the U.S. economy on insect pollinators, a holistic understanding will be gained of the role that pollination services play in product and industrial life cycles. Additionally, the creation of a new environmental impact category in the framework will facilitate easier quantification of the dependence of economic goods and services on pollination services on a life cycle basis with a specific focus on honey bees. The project is targeted to play a pivotal role in understanding the critical role of insect pollination services for the U.S. economy, in terms of agricultural output as well as cascading effects on industrial sectors and the larger economy. The insights resulting from this work may lead to greater appreciation of the role of ecosystem goods and services in the life cycle of economic products and services, and is anticipated to play an important role for educating researchers, stakeholders, policy makers, entomologists, conservationists, industrial ecologists, and LCA practitioners on the economic role of pollination services. Educational exhibits and modules are designed to engage hundreds of engineering and science students, while public outreach activities are planned for K-12 students and citizens. These studies will educate the next generation of the science and engineering workforce on the importance of insects and pollination, a topic of significant societal relevance.

Effective start/end date7/1/166/30/19


  • National Science Foundation: $80,000.00


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