Insects provide pollination of important food crops and native wildflowers, but researchers sought to understand how air pollution affects different pollinating insect species, of which, some rely on scent above all other senses.
Scientists studying air pollutants from both urban and rural environments found that there are up to 70% fewer pollinators, up to 90% less flower visits, and an overall 31% in pollination reduction in test plants when there were several common ground-level air pollutants present – including diesel exhaust pollutants and ozone.
Common air pollutants are diminishing the insect’s pollination by inhibiting them from sniffing out the crops and wildflowers that depend on them. Pollination supports around 8% of the total value of agricultural food production worldwide and is a huge contributor to food security and the economy.
The study, published in Environmental Pollution, highlights the negative impact of common air pollutants on pollination in the natural environment. The researchers theorise that the pollutants react with and change the scents of flowers, making them harder to find.