Field of Science

Have you thanked a bumblebee today?

Land plants had a problem; they inherited swimming sperm from their algal ancestors, but they no longer lived in an aquatic environment. Flowering plants, the most recent group of land plants to appear, have solved the “swimming sperm” problem by having evolved miniaturized haploid males that do the dispersing over distances far too great for any sperm to swim. These tiny male organisms are called pollen, and unlike most other land plants who used wind or water to disperse their spores, over 80% of flowering plants use biotic dispersers – animals who are rewarded or seduced or deceived into acting as pollen vectors. Over 200,000 insect species act as pollinators – mostly bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and flies. About 1000 species of birds and mammals (mostly bats) also function as pollinators. This biotic interaction is quite important to our species because quite a large number of the plants that we depend upon require pollinators to reproduce, and in the case of fruit and seed crops, to produce what we want. So this week is set aside to celebrate pollination. Woo, hoo! Here beetles and butterflies participate in the pollination of wild carrot. Such wild pollinators provide billions of dollars of serve to us, yet too often they are taken for granted and our activities may be reducing many of their populations.


Laura Bloomsbury said...

Thank you as usual for your very informative posts. I thank bumblebees daily - great pollinators and one of the few that keep still long enough to photograph.


Larissa said...

nice photo! Those look like Troy bugs to me!

The Phytophactor said...

To bad for Larissa this wasn't a travel quiz. What a Turkey of a guess.