The road to ‘pollination heaven’ is narrow not broad
New research from scientists at the University of Oxford and Earthwatch has been published online in the journal Current Biology. The study analysed the movement of pollinators in central Chile’s fragmented woodlands and found that their movement is strongly affected by different types of land use.
The online newspaper, Earth Times featured the report findings and their wider implications. An extract of the article is below.
For humble hoverflies, flitting over the Chilean woodlands, their path is strewn with a smorgasbord of landscapes - rich farmland, pine plantations, areas of felled trees, and fragments of original native forests. But unbeknown to these nectar-seeking insects, the fate of the endangered and iconic Gomortega tree - found only in this biodiversity hotspot - depends on the path that they choose to follow
So working out whether these insects follow the broad path, paved with pollinating riches - or instead strike along the straight and narrow - has big implications for the survival of the Gomortega tree. And it could help find the best way to manage this important hotchpotch of a landscape.
Now a paper in the latest online Current Biology has demonstrated that, when it comes to arranging 'connecting flights' between the few surviving stands of Gomortega, the broad path of flower-rich farmland can be too much of a distraction. It seems that narrow, rocky, resource-poor road may be better, if pollinating nirvana is to be achieved.
That runs counter to many previous, simpler ways of looking at how broken-up conservation areas can be stitched back together, so as to improve the flow of pollen between them. And because hoverflies are such generalist pollinators, the implications of the study is likely to spill far beyond Chile's Valdivian Forests.
Dr Dan Bebber, in charge of climate change research at Earthwatch, and co-author of the paper said: "This study complements our forest research in the UK, where scientists from Earthwatch and the University of Oxford are investigating how moths and small mammals are using landscape corridors such as hedgerows and trees to move among habitat types. Landscape connectivity through corridors can enhance species migration, and could prevent the extinction of vulnerable species".
Read the full article
Find out more about Earthwatch’s forest research, under the HSBC Climate Partnership.
Read an article of the study published on the BBC website