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Penn State to host pollinator health conference

With populations of wild and domesticated pollinators, such as honeybees, in decline, some of the world's foremost scientists in the field will converge on Penn State this summer to discuss the latest research aimed at understanding and overcoming challenges to pollinator health.

Hosted by the Center for Pollinator Research in the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, the second International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy will be held August 14 to17 at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus.

Pollinators are essential for both plants and animals in agriculture and natural ecosystems, but there have been dramatic drops in pollinator populations worldwide, according to Christina Grozinger, associate professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research.

"Pollinator decline not only has alarmed the scientific community but has gained prominence in the popular press, raising the public's awareness about threats to our ecosystem," she said. "The causes are complex, and we believe many stressors are contributing, including parasites, pathogens, environmental toxins, poor nutrition and habitat loss.

"The conference will include presentations on all these topics, but especially will focus on the effects of environment contaminants on pollinators."

Grozinger noted that the event will bring together experts from universities, government agencies, agrochemical companies, nonprofit organizations and several stakeholder groups for a dialog about the research, management, conservation and policy approaches needed to tackle these issues.

"When this conference first was held in 2010, it attracted more than 200 participants from 14 countries," she said.

The conference will feature two world-renowned keynote speakers -- David Goulson, of the University of Stirling, U.K., an expert in the behavior, ecosystem services and conservation of bumble bees and Heather Patisaul, North Carolina State University -- who will share insights into the genomic, neurophysiological and behavioral impacts of environmental contaminants that act as endocrine disruptors in mammals.

Additional symposia will include invited and contributed talks and posters related to pollinator behavior, physiology, host-parasite interactions, conservation, ecosystems services and policy.

The conference will begin on the evening of Aug. 14 and will be preceded the same day by the Pollinator Conservation Short Course, hosted by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. The Short Course, also at the University Park campus, will feature presentations on creating and protecting pollinator habitat and related research by Penn State scientists.

Conference attendees should register by July 1 to receive a discounted registration fee. A special rate is available for students. The keynote addresses will be free and open to the public.


Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

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