Towards a system-level causative knowledge of pollinator communities.
Pollination plays a central role in both crop production and maintaining biodiversity. However, habitat loss, pesticides, invasive species and larger environmental fluctuations are contributing to a dramatic decline of pollinators worldwide. Different management solutions require knowledge of how ecological communities will respond following interventions. Yet, anticipating the response of these systems to interventions remains extremely challenging due to the unpredictable nature of ecological communities, whose nonlinear behaviour depends on the specific details of species interactions and the various unknown or unmeasured confounding factors. Here, we propose that this knowledge can be derived by following a probabilistic systems analysis rooted on non-parametric causal inference. The main outcome of this analysis is to estimate the extent to which a hypothesized cause can increase or decrease the probability that a given effect happens without making assumptions about the form of the cause-effect relationship. We discuss a road map for how this analysis can be accomplished with the aim of increasing our system-level causative knowledge of natural communities.