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Quantifying the Direct and Indirect Role of Insect Pollinators in the US Economy

Jordan, Alex (2021) Quantifying the Direct and Indirect Role of Insect Pollinators in the US Economy. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Ecosystem goods and services are consistently undervalued as critically important resources to all humans in sustaining human and industrial activity. One such crucial ecosystem service is pollination mediated by both wild and managed insect species. Close to 90 percent of wild flowering plants and more than one third of global crops by production depend on animal-mediated pollination, in some capacity, for yield or quality. Perhaps even more critically, these crops include some of the most nutritionally-rich crops including many fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and oils1. Although renewable, many ecosystem goods and services are being extended beyond their rate of replenishment as ecosystems are degraded and demand increases2. Despite this and significant interest in pollinator wellness in the wake of the devastating introduction of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) to the U.S. in 2006, the extent to which economic sectors, especially non-agricultural sectors therein, depend on insect-mediated pollination service remains uncertain.

This work investigates the role of insect pollinators in both agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, using methodologies and metrics from various disciplines including economics, ecology, geography, industrial ecology, statistics, and life cycle assessment. This research quantifies and extends existing research to better capture the dependence of U.S. crops on insect-mediated pollination by both honey bees and wild pollinators, estimating both economic value and associated uncertainty. In addition, it identifies economic sectors and regions of the U.S. especially vulnerable to pollinator decline. An IO framework is utilized to quantify direct and indirect economic dependence of U.S. industry sectors on insect-mediated pollination service and to assess cascading economic impacts of potential pollination losses. Lastly, this research creates a new environmental vector compatible with existing EIO-LCA tools to quantify the contribution of pollination services, focusing on service provided by honey bees, to facilitate more complete life cycle analyses. This new impact category progresses the incorporation of ecosystem goods and services into process-based life cycle assessments of products, allowing for unintended environmental externalities of industrial production to be better identified. This valuable perspective provides framework for the use of mixed IO models for analyzing ecosystem services, overall contributing to efforts to conserve ecosystem health and biodiversity.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jordan, Alexalexjordan@pitt.edualj83
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKhanna,
Committee MemberNg,
Committee MemberBilec,
Committee MemberGrozinger,
Date: 13 June 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 October 2020
Approval Date: 13 June 2021
Submission Date: 26 October 2020
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 127
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: ecosystem services, pollination, insect pollination, sustainability
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2021 18:22
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2023 05:15

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  • Quantifying the Direct and Indirect Role of Insect Pollinators in the US Economy. (deposited 13 Jun 2021 18:22) [Currently Displayed]


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