MCA Priority- Native Pollinators

Restoring and Conserving Pollination Systems

Many species of native pollinators are declining due to threats such as habitat loss and the prevalent use of some pesticides. This crucial issue warrants action, because over three-quarters of the world’s flowering plants need the help of a diversity of animals to pollinate and reproduce. Native pollinators and plants have coevolved over time to form interdependent and mutually beneficial relationships known as pollination systems.

The Metrowest Conservation Alliance (MCA) has formed a Native Pollinator Task Force (NPTF) to address our region's pollination systems.

Healthy pollination systems provide food, shelter, and other habitats for wildlife as well as providing important ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, clean air, flood control and water purification, disease regulation, and more.

Pollination systems are made up of plants and pollinators. The two groups rely on each other to survive.

There are many types of plants and pollinators, which have many unique and often specialized relationships. Bumblebee species visit different flowers depending on the length of the bumblebee’s tongue aligning with the shape of the flower. Bumblebees forage on different plants to fulfill their needs for nectar and pollen. Preserving the diversity of these relationships keeps the whole pollination system healthy.

A major public misconception about native pollinator decline is that all species are declining at the same rate. For example, in Metrowest two at-risk bumblebee species are the golden northern (Bombus fervidus) and half-black bumblebees (Bombus vagans), while the native common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) is abundant. The NPTF works to provide habitat requirements for these at-risk species, which will also help other native pollinators and help preserve the whole pollination system. Conserving diversity  of pollinators is critical for supporting the whole pollination system.

From left to right: B. fervidus (© John Baker, Creative Commons), B. vagans (Norm Levey), and B. impatiens (© Judy Gallagher, Creative Commons).