The pollinators They play a vital role in the health and balance of ecosystems across the planet. Bees, butterflies, wasps, birds, bats and other animals – mainly insects – actively participate in plant reproduction by transferring pollen from one flower to another. However, In recent decades, an alarming decline in pollinator populations has been observed, threatening not only wildlife diversity but also global food security..
In an environment increasingly impoverished in insects, angiosperms wild (flowering plants) that grow in agricultural crops tend to free themselves from polarizers. According to a scientific study published in the journal ‘New Phytologist’, as their reproduction becomes more difficult, due to the shortage of polarizers, plants evolve towards self-fertilization.
By comparing some plants currently growing in the Paris region with flowers of the same species in that same area ‘resurrected’ in the laboratory from seeds collected between 1990 and 2000, the research team found that Today’s flowers are 10% smaller, produce 20% less nectar and are less visited by pollinators than their ancestors..
Population genetic analysis also reveals a 27% increase in selfing rates carried out in the field during the last 30 years, which shows that Plant mating systems can evolve rapidly in natural populations in the face of environmental changes in progress.
The researchers theory is that these rapid advances are due to declining pollinator populations. In fact, a study conducted in Germany shows that more than 75% of the biomass of insects flying birds has disappeared from protected areas in the last thirty years.
The study highlights a vicious cycle in which The decrease in pollinators leads to a reduction in the nectar production of flowers, which, in turn, could further worsen the decline of these insects by not finding enough food.
Therefore, environmental changes can present a double danger for pollinator populations, since they become victims of both these changes and the evolution of plant traits. This, in turn, can lead to a positive eco-evolutionary feedback loop that promotes the decline of pollinators, further reinforcing the evolution of plants towards a self-fertilization syndrome.
“This may explain the degradation of the plant-pollinator network as documented in a previous study and raises the worrying prospect of cascading effects on food webs in general, beyond plant-pollinator interactions,” the report states.
“There is an urgent need to investigate whether these results are symptomatic of a broader pattern between angiosperms and their pollinators and, if so, understand whether there is a possibility of reverse this process and break this positive eco-evolutionary feedback loop,” the document adds.
The authors emphasize the importance of implementing measures to stop this phenomenon as quickly as possible and pallow the maintenance of interactions between plants and pollinatorswhich have lasted for several million years.
A serious threat
More than 80% of existing angiosperms depend on animals for pollination. The three main causes of pollinator loss are habitat destructionfollowed by the land use changes –mainly grazing, fertilizers and monoculture– and widespread use of pesticides.
Between the impacts of the decline of pollinators highlight the decline in biodiversitythe threat to food security (a large percentage of food crops depend on pollination) and ecosystem destabilization.
Between the measures for the conservation of pollinatorsscientists point out the conservation and restoration of natural habitats to provide suitable places for breeding and feeding of pollinators; the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices Minimizing pesticide use and encouraging crop diversity can help preserve pollinators; the education, awareness and sensitization about the importance of pollinators and the threats they face; and the investigation on the causes of pollinator decline and population monitoring to develop effective conservation strategies.
The decline of pollinators is a “serious threat” which requires “Inmediate attention and concerted efforts at a global level,” the experts point out. “The preservation of these guardians of biodiversity not only protects nature, but also supports food security and the health of the planet,” they add.
Reference report: https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.19422
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