Navigation Links
Ecologists tease out private lives of plants and their pollinators
Date:5/5/2008

The quality of pollen a plant produces is closely tied to its sexual habits, ecologists have discovered. As well as helping explain the evolution of such intimate relationships between plants and pollinators, the study one of the first of its kind and published online in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology also helps explain the recent dramatic decline in certain bumblebee species found in the shrinking areas of species-rich chalk grasslands and hay meadows across Northern Europe.

Relationships between plants and pollinators have fascinated ecologists since Darwin's day. While ecologists have long known that pollinators such as honeybees and bumblebees are often faithful to certain flowers, and have done much work on the role of nectar as a food source, very little is known about how pollen quality affects these relationships.

Working on Salisbury Plain, the largest area of unimproved chalk grassland in north west Europe, ecologists from the universities of Plymouth, Stirling and Poitiers in France collected pollen from 23 different flowering plant species, 13 of which are only pollinated by insects while the other 10 species can either pollinate themselves or be insect pollinated. They analysed the pollen for protein content and, in the second part of the study, recorded bumblebee foraging behaviour.

They found that without exception, plants that rely solely on insects for pollination produce the highest quality pollen, packing 65% more protein into their pollen than plant species that do not have to rely on insect pollinators. They also discovered that bumblebees prefer to visit plants with the most protein-rich pollen. According to the lead author of the study, Dr Mick Hanley of the University of Plymouth: Bumblebees appear to fine-tune their foraging behaviour to select plants offering the most rewarding pollen. Although there is some debate about how they can tell the difference, it is possible they are using volatile compounds.

By helping understand the advantages and disadvantages of plant-pollinator relationships where particular plants rely on particular insects to reproduce, and those insects rely on the same plants for food, the results could help ecologists conserve certain bumblebee species and the species-rich chalk grassland and hay meadow communities in which they live, all of which are becoming increasingly rare.

For the plant, relying on a small group of insects such as bumblebees as pollinators is very beneficial because it ensures efficient pollen transfer. Bumblebees quickly learn to visit the most rewarding flowers, so providing protein-rich pollen is one way plants can encourage bumblebees to be faithful. But this close relationship has many potential pitfalls, because if the pollinators are lost, the flowers may not be able to reproduce, and this may be what we are seeing in the hay meadows, chalk grasslands and bumblebees species throughout Northern Europe, Hanley says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Becky Allen
beckyallen@ntlworld.com
44-012-235-70016
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Ecologists, material scientists pursue genetics of diatoms elegant, etched casing
2. Ecologists discover city is uber-forest for big owls
3. Private Rocketeers reach for space -- science writer in Canada to explain
4. Material Technologies Holds First Electrochemical Fatigue Sensor Training for Private Inspection Firms
5. A private bandwidth for communication in bats: Evidence from insular horseshoe bats
6. Europe develops new technologies to boost health of livestock
7. A compound extracted from olives inhibits cancer cells growth and prevents their appearance
8. Family ties that bind: Maternal grandparents are more involved in the lives of their grandchildren
9. Woody and aquatic plants pose greatest invasive threat to China
10. Boost for green plastics from plants
11. Nitric oxide regulates plants as well as people
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/17/2016)... , March 17, 2016 ABI Research, ... forecasts the global biometrics market will reach more ... 118% increase from 2015. Consumer electronics, particularly smartphones, ... fingerprint sensors anticipated to reach two billion shipments ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Research Analyst at ABI ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... March 14, 2016 NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ... commerce market, announces the airing of a new series of ... week of March 21 st .  The commercials will air ... popular Squawk on the Street show. --> NXTD ... growing mobile commerce market, announces the airing of a new ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... PUNE, India , March 11, 2016 ... to a new market research report "Image Recognition Market ... by Application (Marketing and Advertising), by Deployment Type (On-Premises ... Global Forecast To 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global ... in 2015 to USD 29.98 Billion by 2020, at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... ... testing technology at the Spring 2016 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo. Shimadzu’s high-performance ... solvents, heavy metals, and more. Expo attendees can stop by booth 1021 to ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... Columbia , April 27, 2016 ... "NanoStruck") (CSE: NSK) (OTCPink: NSKQB) ( Frankfurt ... Anschluss an ihre Pressemitteilung vom 13. August 2015 ... hat, ihre Finanzen um zusätzliche 200.000.000 Einheiten auf ... Kanadische Dollar zu bringen. Davon wurden 157.900.000 Einheiten ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... ... April 27, 2016 , ... NDA ... joined the company as an Expert Consultant. Mr. Clark was formerly a ... managing the development of small molecule monographs based on analytical methods. NDA ...
(Date:4/27/2016)... , ... April 27, 2016 , ... Global Stem ... GSCG Advisory Board. Ross is the founder of GSCG affiliate Kimera Labs in Miami. ... where he studied hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for hematologic disorders and the suppression of ...
Breaking Biology Technology: