Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Increased competition for pollen may lead to plant extinctions

23.01.2006


Loss of birds, bees and other pollinators places plants at risk



The decline of birds, bees and other pollinators in the world’s most diverse ecosystems may be putting plants in those areas at risk, according to new research. The finding raises concern that more may have to be done to protect Earth’s most biologically rich areas, scientists say in an article appearing in the Jan. 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The analysis shows that ecosystems with the largest number of different species, including the jungles of South America and Southeast Asia and the rich shrubland of South Africa, have bigger deficits in pollination compared to the less-diverse ecosystems of North America, Europe and Australia.


"The global pattern we observed suggests that plants in species-rich regions exhibit a greater reduction in fruit production due to insufficient pollination than plant species in regions of lower biodiversity," said Susan Mazer, a co-author of the article and a biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She and her colleagues believe such biodiversity "hotspots" are characterized by stronger competition among plant species for pollinators, such that many plant species simply don’t receive enough pollen to achieve maximum fruit and seed production.

"Many plants rely on insects and other pollen vectors to reproduce," said Jana Vamosi, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Calgary and co-author of the paper. "We’ve found that in areas where there is a lot of competition between individuals and between species, many plants aren’t getting enough pollen to successfully reproduce. If plants can’t survive, neither can animals. These biodiversity hotspots are important because they are where we most often find new sources of drugs and other important substances. They are also the areas where habitat is being destroyed the fastest."

The study analyzes 482 field experiments on 241 flowering plant species conducted since 1981. The research took several years to complete; all continents except Antarctica are represented.

The analysis, which was sponsored by the researchers affiliated with the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the UC-Santa Barbara, and was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), "can tell us things about ecological processes hat individual studies can’t," Mazer said, noting that the synthesis could not have been done 25 years ago because few careful field studies of this type had been conducted. "Our detection of global patterns required the simultaneous analysis of many studies conducted independently by plant ecologists all over the world," she said.

Mazer cautioned that it is not yet possible to determine whether low pollenation observed in species-rich areas is a new phenomenon or a long-standing one. It may be a recent problem due to habitat fragmentation or destruction, she said, or it may be long term. Plant species in ecologically complex areas may be continually faced with new competitors, and therefore cannot evolve as rapidly as their environment changes. If that is true, she said, pollen limitation may be a chronic problem for species in biodiversity hotspots--a challenge they have coped with for millions of years.

"The pattern raises the alarm, however, that these species face two challenges that increase the risk of extinction: habitat destruction, which is occurring at alarming rates in the tropics, and reduced pollinator activity," said Mazer.

In addition to Vamosi and Mazer, authors include Tiffany Knight at Washington University; Tia-Lynn Ashman and Janette Steets at the University of Pittsburgh; and Martin Burd at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nsf.gov
http://www.ia.ucsb.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>