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3017Re: [beemonitoring] Relative importance of pollinators

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  • Crystal Boyd
    Nov 15, 2013
      Thanks, Peter. Parameters are another difficulty with these high-level comparisons. I'm most interested in statistics for pollinator comparisons in Minnesota (not available, I'm sure), the United States, or the globe. Really, though, I can use what's available. If there happen to be statistics for Australia, I could use those but explain the differences you highlight for different biomes.

      What about this?  This paper reports that 67% of flowering plants are pollinated by bees (but it's missing a reference for it). Then I'd just need stats about butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, thrips, etc... to split up the remaining 33%. Of course, this assumes that each plant species is pollinated by only one insect group.

      On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 10:11 AM, Peter Bernhardt <bernhap2@...> wrote:
      Dear Crystal:

      Before we do anything you have to give us an idea of parameters?  Are we talking about the continental USA or globally?  Different insects are important in different biomes globally.  For example, a recent paper notes that 80% of the beetles native to the canopies of Australian, tropical forests visit flowers (they do not munch on leaves).  Consequently, beetle-pollination might be more important in northern tropical forests of Australian then in southern temperate forests.  Likewise, hummingbird pollination is far more important in the western half of the United States (about 6 nesting species) but far less important east of the Mississippi River (only one nesting species).  We note that the majority of species of hummingbird-pollinated members of such families as the cacti, mints, snap dragons, phlox, honeysuckles, lilies etc. are western.  Their close relatives in the east tend to depend on bees and other insects.  Consequently, hummingbird pollination is probably far more important in South America (an estimated 230 native species) then in Canada and the continental U.S.

      Whatever the case, number-crunching will not be possible without a hard look at the literature from today to back to the 1870's (time in which Darwin's books really popularized the study of pollination in Europe, South Africa, America, Canada and Australia).  Unless Drs Inouye and Kevan have kept literature lists and statistics (they've published to big reviews on fly pollination, for example) all we can do is generalize.  

      Then there's the question of how you define importance.  Paeonia brownie is a threatened species important to conservation efforts in the U.S. and it is pollinated primarily by vespid and polistes wasps but there are relatively few studies of wasp pollination nationally or internationally.


      On Fri, Nov 15, 2013 at 9:20 AM, Crystal Boyd <Crystal.Boyd@...> wrote:

      Hi, everyone. I'm hoping to tap your collective wisdom on this beautiful Friday morning.

      How do you speak about the "relative importance" of the 4 major pollinating groups (bees, butterflies and moths, flies, and beetles)? I can explain the importance of pollen foraging and floral constancy in bees, but people are asking for statistics to compare the groups.

      High-level comparisons can be misleading, for sure. I'll point out that even if beetles aren't the most efficient pollinators, they are (of course) critical to the plants they are pollinating.


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