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NSERC Canadian Pollination Initiative Challenge


The diversity and abundance of insect pollinators are in a global state of decline. This decline represents a serious threat to the integrity of natural ecosystems and the production of many crops. Both managed pollinators (e.g., honeybees, leafcutter bees, bumblebees) and wild pollinators (e.g., numerous native bees, flower flies, moths) are suffering from a range of threats, including diseases, pesticide exposure, malnutrition, habitat loss and climate change.

In order to protect the vital ecological and agricultural services that insect pollinators provide, it is critical to develop a better understanding of pollinators, the plants that they serve and how environmental factors influence pollination systems. NSERC-CANPOLIN offers a unique, integrative approach to exploring the full scope of the pollination problem in Canada, from pollinator health and conservation to gene flow in plants, the impact of climate change and the economics of pollination.

Network Structure

With 44 researchers at 26 institutions across Canada, NSERC Canadian Pollination Initiative Challenge (CANPOLIN) brings together many of the nation’s leading experts in entomology, plant biology, ecology, genomics, predictive modeling and economics. Research activities fall under four themes (Pollinators, Plants, Ecosystems, and Prediction and Economics), and each theme has two working groups. Extensive connections exist between themes and working groups, and most Network members belong to at least two working groups, reflecting the truly multidisciplinary scope of the Network.

The Network secretariat is based at the University of Guelph, where Dr. Peter Kevan serves as the Scientific Director. Research activities are overseen by a Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) consisting of academic, industry and government stakeholders, international advisors and theme leaders from the Network. A Board of Directors provides overall governance, as well as financial and scientific leadership. The Network also has several government, industry and NGO partners.

Research Objectives

Theme 1: Pollinators

  • A comprehensive inventory of Canada’s most important wild pollinators, with associated identification guides.
  • A DNA database of wild bees and pollinating flies in Canada.
  • A detailed comparison of the conservation genetics of bees, flies and moths.
  • Strategies to reduce the impacts of pesticides on pollinators.
  • A national diagnostics network for managed pollinator diseases.
  • New treatment technologies and breeding programs for diseases.
  • Development of alternative pollinator species for use in agriculture.

Theme 2: Plants

  • A compendium of plant mating systems and their pollination requirements in Canada.
  • Improved understanding of the role of pollen in gene flow and dispersal.
  • Identification of which Canadian plant species are most threatened by pollinator decline.
  • Baseline data on pollen production and dispersal for major wind pollinated species.
  • Evaluation of crop yields as a function of pollen concentration.
  • Prediction of plant migration and spread of invasive plant species.

Theme 3: Ecosystems

  • Information on the major ecological and environmental factors affecting plant and pollinator diversity across Canada.
  • Determination of the effect of pollinator diversity and abundance on seed set.
  • Determination of the impact of introduced species on pollination of native or crop plants.
  • Improved recommendations on how to manage pollinator habitat most effectively.
  • Elucidation of the role of floral traits in successful pollination.

Theme 4: Economics and Prediction

  • Species-specific models of how pollinator range and abundance may change in response to climate and land use change, and the economic impacts.
  • Recommendations on appropriate management tactics at the regional level.
  • Characterization of the economic impacts of climate and land use change on pollination services.
  • Policy recommendations to improve the net benefits of the pollination market in Canada.


NSERC-CANPOLIN will make major contributions to the conservation of pollinator and plant biodiversity, improve the health of managed bees, enhance pollination by native pollinators and increase our knowledge of flower/pollinator interactions and gene flow in plants. The Network will also provide critical information on the economic aspects of pollination and future management needs based on expected changes in climate and land use. Ultimately, the information gained by the Network will provide policy makers and the wider public with the necessary tools to better protect and conserve some of Canada’s most important natural resources.


Sarah Bates, PhD
Network Manager
Tel.: 519-824-4120, ext. 58022
Web site: This link will take you to another Web site

Contact us at 1-877-767-1767