More problems for bees: we’ve wiped out their favorite plants | Ars Technica
Mar 6, The story of pollination goes back a long way if we care to take it that far. been the symbiotic relationships they have fostered with a variety of different has become such a problem that even generalist flowers are impacted. Mar 11, Plants and bees have a symbiotic relationship. That's a serious problem since, in the US alone, bees contribute $15 billion in annual. Jul 17, If a plant provides little in the way of nectar or pollen, its flowers will not Some flowers have developed such specialized relationships that they can issues related to plants and their pollinators—Bees, Butterflies and Moths.
If the fertilized embryo does develop, it will have the same genetic makeup as its parents.
The reason why sexual reproduction evolved, despite its increased energy costs over asexual budding of single cells, is because it increases the genetic diversity of the species. Combining genes from different parents creates new combinations never seen before. The greater diversity also protects species populations from potential catastrophe if conditions change suddenly.
Since most plants are literally rooted in place once they begin to grow, they need assistants to help them move pollen between flowers. They mainly attract these animal pollinators with the promise of nectar, a sugary food source high in energy, and advertise with bright and colorful petals surrounding their reproductive organs.
This has led to a wide variety of different animal pollinators. This includes many different types of insects like bees, beetles, moths, and butterflies like the beautiful blue morpho, Morpho peleides, pictured above.
There are also a variety of vertebrate animals that act as flower pollinators. This includes hummingbirds like the one filmed in my earlier story, as well as bats, sunbirds, monkeys, possums, rodents, and even lizards. One of the things that fascinates me about the mutualistic relationships between flowering plants and their pollinators is that they are so varied. While the majority of both flowers and pollinators are not selective and will work with multiple species, there are some examples where the requirements are much more stringent and only a particular animal species will be able to pollinate a flower.
This is quite common in the orchid family, whose flowers often take on remarkably unique shapes. There are trade-offs for both of these strategies. If any type of pollinator will do, you will be less likely to be adversely affected by the loss of one particular pollinator species. However, each pollinator that visits your flower will also visit many other flower species. If instead you have a single pollinator suited only for you, that pollinator will be guaranteed to take the pollen to a flower of the same species.
The Birds and the Bees – Nature Stories
However, if anything were to happen to either species in the specialist relationship, the other connected species would be adversely affected as well. Sadly, that last downside is becoming more and more common in recent years. Over time, plants have developed structures to force pollinators to keep up their end of the bargain.
For example, bottle gentian has large, tightly-closed flowers that exclude most pollinators. However, large bumblebees are strong enough to pry open the petals and crawl inside. Some flowers have developed such specialized relationships that they can only be pollinated by a single species. Cacao trees, from which we get chocolate, have tiny, complex flowers that can only be pollinated by a teeny midge fly.
Powerful Partnerships: Exploring Flowers and Their Pollinators
In Madagascar, Charles Darwin encountered an orchid that has an inch deep flower. He reasoned there must be a pollinator with specialized equipment to feed from that flower, and sure enough, many years later, a moth with an inch long proboscis was discovered. Activity—Matching Flowers to Their Perfect Pollinator Partners Such unique, specialized relationships are not common, but you and your students can explore everyday flowers and their pollinator partners with the following activity: Discuss the ways plants use their flowers to attract pollinators—shape, color, smell.
Then look at each type of flower in your classroom sample and pose the following questions: What is the flowers color and shape?
Does it have a smell? Can you find its parts? Remember, some flowers are composite, meaning that they are really many tiny flowers packed into what looks like one flower.