Heated rival­ries for pol­lin­at­ors among arc­tic plants

Image of arctic flowers.

(University of Helsinki) Insect pollination is as important to Arctic plants as it is to plants further south. When flowers abound, the plants have to compete for pollinators. Researchers reveal that higher temperatures cause the flowering periods of different plant species to pile up in time. As a consequence, climate change may affect the competitive relationships of plants. The most attractive plant species steal the majority of pollinators, making other plants flowering at the same time suffer from poorer pollination.

Nectar robbery by short-tongued bees is throwing off delicate pollination cycles

Close up image of plaster bee.

(Massive Science) Bees have evolved to become extremely successful pollinators, and generally have a mutually beneficial relationship with plants. But nectar-robbing is a behavior in which an insect lightly bites a small hole in the a flower’s tissues at the base of the petal to access nectar, without performing the act of pollination. It can have a profound impact on a plant’s ability to reproduce.

Air pollution renders flower odors unattractive to moths

Image of hawkmoth on flower.

(Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology) Researchers showed that tobacco hawkmoths lost attraction to the scent of their preferred flowers when that scent had been altered by ozone. This oxidizing pollutant thus disturbs the chemical communication between a plant and its pollinator. However, when given the chance, hawkmoths quickly learn that an unpleasantly polluted scent may lead to nutritious nectar.

Bumble bees bite plants to make them flower early, surprising scientists

Image of buff-tailed bumble bee flying among thistle.

(National Geographic) Bumble bees aren’t merely bumbling around our gardens. They’re actively assessing the plants, determining which flowers have the most nectar and pollen, and leaving behind scent marks that tell them which blooms they’ve already visited. Now, a new study reveals that bumble bees force plants to flower by making tiny incisions in their leaves – a discovery that has stunned bee scientists.

Study traces how farmlands affect bee disease spread

Image of solitary bee on yellow flowers.

(Cornell University) A new study on bees, plants and landscapes in upstate New York sheds light on how bee pathogens spread, offering possible clues for what farmers could do to improve bee health. The study found that 65 percent of bee species and 75 percent of flower species carried pathogens, and that pathogens are transmitted between bees and flowers.

Some flowers have learned to bounce back after injury

Image of flowers and moth.

(EurekAlert/University of Portsmouth) Mechanical accidents happen to plants fairly often and can, in some cases, stop the plant from being able to attract pollinating insects and so, make seeds. But according to a new study some flowers have a remarkable and previously unknown ability to bounce back after injury, bending and twisting themselves back into the best possible position to ensure successful reproduction within 10 to 48 hours of being knocked over.

What motivates sales of pollinator-friendly plants?

Image of urban garden.

(EurekAlert/American Society for Horticultural Science) An analysis out of the University of Georgia details the relationship between consumer awareness and the attentiveness and care given to pollinator-friendly plant purchases. The results show that information from the federal government, nursery/greenhouse industry associations, and environmental activist groups has the same impact on self-reported future pollinator-friendly plant purchasing as the no-information group. Only information from universities and major media outlets reportedly drives changes in consumer behavior.