Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Assessing pollinator habitat services to optimize conservation programs

April 12, 2017

Pollination services have received increased attention over the past several years, and protecting foraging area is beginning to be reflected in conservation policy. This case study considers the prospects for doing so in a more analytically rigorous manner, by quantifying the pollination services for sites being considered for ecological restoration. The specific policy context is the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which offers financial and technical assistance to landowners seeking to convert sensitive cropland back to some semblance of the prairie (or, to a lesser extent, forest or wetland) ecosystem that preceded it. Depending on the mix of grasses and wildflowers that are established, CRP enrollments can provide pollinator habitat. Further, depending on their location, they will generate related services, such as biological control of crop pests, recreation, and aesthetics. While offers to enroll in CRP compete based on cost and some anticipated benefits, the eligibility and ranking criteria do not reflect these services to a meaningful degree. Therefore, we develop a conceptual value diagram to identify the sequence of steps and associated models and data necessary to quantify the full range of services, and find that critical data gaps, some of which are artifacts of policy, preclude the application of benefit-relevant indicators (BRIs) or monetization. However, we also find that there is considerable research activity underway to fill these gaps. In addition, a modeling framework has been developed that can estimate field-level effects on services as a function of landscape context. The approach is inherently scalable and not limited in geographic scope, which is essential for a program with a national footprint. The parameters in this framework are sufficiently straightforward that expert judgment could be applied as a stopgap approach until empirically derived estimates are available. While monetization of benefit-relevant indicators of yield changes (crop and honey) and of habitat benefits due to enhanced pollination and pest bio-control services would be relatively straightforward, the merits of proceeding when other services cannot be valued now should be carefully considered.

Publication Year 2017
Title Assessing pollinator habitat services to optimize conservation programs
DOI 10.22004/ag.econ.260678
Authors Richard Iovanna, Amy W. Ando, Scott Swinton, Daniel Hellerstein, Jimmy Kagan, David M. Mushet, Clint R.V. Otto, Charles A. Rewa
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Number 0114-301b
Index ID 70186752
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center