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Bee decline already having dramatic effect on pollination of plants

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  • stfpare
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/7980954/Bee-decline-already-having-dramatic-effect-on-pollination-of-plants.html Bee decline already having
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6 12:47 PM

      Bee decline already having dramatic effect on pollination of plants

      A decline in bees and global warming are having a damaging effect on the
      pollination of plants, new research claims.

      By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent
      Published: 5:30AM BST 06 Sep 2010

      Researchers have found that pollination levels of some plants have dropped
      by up to 50 per cent in the last two decades.

      The "pollination deficit" could see a dramatic reduction in the yield from

      The research, carried out in the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, is the first to
      show that the effect is real and serves as a "warning" to Britain which if
      anything has seen an even greater decline in bees and pollinators.

      "This serves as a warning to other countries," said Professor James Thomson
      at the University of Toronto, who carried out the research.

      "For quite some time people have been suggesting that pollinators are in
      decline and that this could have an effect on pollination.

      "I believe that this is the first real demonstration that pollination levels
      are getting worse. I believe it is a significant decline. I believe the
      pollination levels have dropped by as much as 50 per cent.

      "Bee numbers may have declined at our research site, but we suspect that a
      climate-driven mismatch between the times when flowers open and when bees
      emerge from hibernation is a more important factor."

      According to a previous study, England's bees are vanishing faster than
      anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the
      last 20 years.

      Butterflies and other insects are also in decline due to habitat loss and
      climate change.

      The situation is so serious that the government has launched a £10 million
      project to find out what is causing bees and other insects to disappear.

      It is estimated bees are responsible for one in three mouthfuls of our food,
      and that insect pollinators contribute £440 million to the British economy
      through their role in fertilising crops.

      For the latest study, Prof Thomson carried out a 17-year examination of the
      wild lily in the Rocky Mountains.

      It is one of the longest-term studies of pollination ever done.

      It reveals a progressive decline in pollination over the years, with
      particularly noteworthy pollination deficits early in the season.

      The study will be published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal
      Society B: Biological Sciences.

      Three times each year, Prof Thomson compared the fruiting rate of
      unmanipulated flowers to that of flowers that are supplementally pollinated
      by hand.

      "Early in the year, when bumble bee queens are still hibernating, the
      fruiting rates are especially low," he says.

      "This is sobering because it suggests that pollination is vulnerable even in
      a relatively pristine environment that is free of pesticides and human
      disturbance but still subject to climate change."

      Prof Thomson began his long-term studies in the late 1980s after purchasing
      a remote plot of land and building a log cabin in the middle of a meadow
      full of glacier lilies.
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