The latest in an (ir)regular series of posts to biodiversity-related* items that have caught my attention during the past few weeks; this one’s focused on pollinators and pollination because there’s been so much emerging on this recently it’s been impossible to decide what to write more fully about!
- In “Disentangling visual and olfactory signals in mushroom-mimicking Dracula orchids using realistic three-dimensional printed flowers” in the journal New Phytologist, Tobias Policha and colleagues have used artificial, 3D printed flowers to assess the relative importance of scent versus colour/shape in some fly pollinated orchid species. Yes, Dracula is a real genus!
- In the journal Nature, Mathilde Baude and colleagues have looked at how nectar resources have changed in extent and composition over the 20th Century in a paper entitled “Historical nectar assessment reveals the fall and rise of floral resources in Britain“.
- An important disease of honeybees, Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) is “driven by trade and movement of honeybee colonies” according to a new study in Science by Lena Wilfert and colleagues, “Deformed wing virus is a recent global epidemic in honeybees driven by Varroa mites“, further emphasising what many of us have been saying, that reduction in honeybee numbers is largely a veterinary/husbandry problem, rather than a conservation issue.
- Some of my colleagues in Denmark and Brazil (amongst other countries) continue their exploration of the ecology and evolution of hummingbird-plant interaction networks with a new paper in Proceedings of the Royal Society B entitled “High proportion of smaller ranged hummingbird species coincides with ecological specialization across the Americas“.
- Also in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Conrad Labandeira and (particularly Chinese) colleagues have documented some amazing similarities between extinct fossil lacewings and butterflies, in “The evolutionary convergence of mid-Mesozoic lacewings and Cenozoic butterflies“.
- On the 20th May there’s going to be an exciting one-day symposium entitled “Bats, Bees, Birds, Butterflies and Bouquets: New Research in Pollination Biology” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Wish I could go!
- Finally, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has a whole set of resources related to its Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture programme, including a newly released “Protocol to detect and monitor pollinator communities: Guidance for practitioners” by Gretchen LeBuhn and colleagues. Worth exploring in detail. Something that’s unclear to me is the extent to which this aspect of the FAO’s work is going to be replaced or duplicated by the report (and presumably subsequent, follow-up work?) on pollinators and pollination that’s due this year from the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), about which I hope to report in the near future.
Feel free to recommend links that have caught your eye.