Wildflower’s spiny pollen adapts to help plants reproduce

Microscopic image of spiky pollen.

(University of Missouri) Researchers at the University of Missouri discovered that the spiny pollen from a native wild dandelion species in the southern Rocky Mountains has evolved to attach to traveling bumble bees. When compared with the average lawn dandelion, which does not need pollen to reproduce, the researchers saw that the pollen on the lawn dandelion has a shorter distance between these spines, making it harder to attach to traveling pollinators.

Launching Bee Better Certified in California vineyards

Image of two people examining flowers by a road.

(Xerces Society) In the fall of 2019, Xerces received a Conservation Innovation Grant from the Natural Resource Conservation Service to demonstrate the benefits of Bee Better Certification within the wine industry. To kick off the implementation stage of the project, Xerces conducted site visits at the five participating California vineyards to assess the potential for habitat and to discuss the pesticide practices outlined under Bee Better Certified.

Ecosystem services are not constrained by borders

Image of cocoa fruit.

(Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ) Many countries benefit from ecosystem services provided outside their nations. This can happen through economic relationships, biological and geographical conditions, but we hardly know how and where these ecosystem service flows occur. German researchers have published a new study showing how interregional ecosystem service flows can be identified and quantified.

Invest in pollinator monitoring for long-term gain

Image of strawberries next to a free-standing hedgerow

(The Niche, pg. 10) Despite urgent need, monitoring insect pollinators, especially wild bees and hover flies, has often been considered too expensive to implement at a national scale. A research team is studying how to improve pollinator monitoring in the UK in a cost-effective manner. This research examines hidden benefits of monitoring schemes. By pooling data and expertise from a wide range of resources, the costs of schemes have been estimated to be between £5,600 ($6,900) for a small volunteer-led scheme collecting basic data and £2.8 million ($3.5 million) per year for professional monitoring of both pollinating insects and pollination to the UK’s crops. Overall, for every £1 invested in pollinator monitoring schemes, at least £1.50 can be saved from costly, independent research projects.

Climatic-niche evolution strikingly similar in plants and animals

Image of scatter plot graphs.

(EurekAlert/Chinese Academy of Science Headquarters) Climatic niches describe where species can occur and are essential to determining how they will respond to climate change. Given the fundamental biological differences in plants and animals, previous research proposed that plants may have broader environmental tolerances than animals but are more sensitive to climate. However, a recent study has found that there are actually “general rules” of climatic-niche evolution that span plants and animals. “This is extremely important, because it warns us to pay more attention to the high extinction risks for both plant and animal species, if we cannot slow down climatic changes caused by humans.”

Thousands of homeowners apply for Minnesota funding to turn lawns into bee-friendly habitats

Image of bumble bee approaching flower.

(Star Tribune) The state’s Board of Water and Soil Resources will select the first 500 or so homeowners this week to receive funding under the trial program, which will pay residents up to $350 to plant pollinator gardens or convert their traditional grass lawns to more bee-friendly yards. Interest has been high enough that the state will keep accepting applications online until early June. “We knew there were going to be a lot of applications for this, but we didn’t know we were going to get close to 6,000 of them in just this first round.”