Pollination hinged to insect propensity to particular flowers
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/19/2013 -- By removing a single species of bee from a particular field, one can see the remaining species become less faithful to a single flower type. The act significantly lowers the pollination chances of plants, says experts in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The research was conducted in subalpine meadows in the Rocky Mountain, where it appeared to upend the standard 'common knowledge' that pollinating is universally good and there is no loss suffered for the loss of any particular species.
The ecologists in charge of examining the floral fidelity noted that the actions of the bumble bee was to remain true to a single source of nectar. In the case in the particular study, the larkspur. Such a fidelity interest was important to the plant, as the bees are almost like dust mops for nature. They carry off pollen to fertilize blossoms, which will in turn insure proper propagation of the plant species.
The competition amongst the varying species drives them to niches, and the bees will express great fidelity to a single species over another in general. But by removing a single species caused a drop in overall productive pollination from the same species of plant. The remaining bees proved to become more promiscuous, foraging between plants of differing species at a rate of 156% as compared to before, according to the study. The fidelity to a single species dropped by almost 80% overall.
“We found that the remaining bee species in the system did become more generalized,” said ecologist Berry J. Brosi of Emory University, in Atlanta, lead author of the study. “They were actually showing lower floral fidelity. Even over a single foraging trip, they were visiting multiple species of plants more often.”
Brosi, along with researcher Heather Briggs, divided the meadow into separate plots. Some areas were left unchanged, while bees were netted from others and temporarily held back.
“We literally just run around and remove every individual of that species,” said Briggs. “We feel like we get around 95%-99% of them out. That’s possible because there are nests around the area, and once you deplete those numbers, maybe a few will come in, but that’s it for that area. So it’s actually feasible, even though it sounds crazy.”
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