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North American Pollinators Disappearing

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posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 01:57 PM
Scientists reported in a study released Wednesday that there has a distinct drop in the number of pollinating animals observed in the North American ecosystem. With the exception of self pollinating or wind pollinating crops (corn comes immediately to mind) the vast majority of domesticated crops are pollinated by birds, bees, bats and other animals. As a result U.S. farmers had to import honeybees for the first time since 1922.
Birds, bees, bats and other species that pollinate North American plant life are losing population, according to a study released Wednesday by the National Research Council. This "demonstrably downward" trend could damage dozens of commercially important crops, scientists warned, because three-fourths of all flowering plants depend on pollinators for fertilization.

American honeybees, which pollinate more than 90 domestic commercial crops, have declined by 30 percent in the past 20 years. This poses a challenge to agricultural interests such as California almond farmers, who need about 1.4 million colonies of honeybees to pollinate 550,000 acres of their trees. By 2012, the state's almond farmers are expected to need bees to pollinate 800,000 acres.

Gene Robinson, an entomologist at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and one of the 15 researchers who produced the report, said U.S. farmers had to import honeybees last year for the first time since 1922, underscoring the extent of the problem.

Despite its apparent lack of marquee appeal, a decline in pollinator populations is one form of global change that actually has credible potential to alter the shape and structure of terrestrial ecosystems," Berenbaum said.

Animals carry pollen, which they pick up inadvertently while feeding on a plant's nectar, and transfer it from one flowering plant to another, sometimes over significant distances. The process not only boosts plant production but increases species' genetic diversity.

Animal pollinators fertilize more than 187,500 flowering plants worldwide. Scientists believe these plants, called angiosperms, gained ecological dominance more than 70 million years ago in part because animals help them disperse their pollen so broadly. Other pollinators include hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as wild bees.

In many ways pollination works as a chain, said committee member Peter Kevan, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, in which even the largest animals depend on small insects.

"Canadian black bears need blueberries, and the blueberries need bees" for pollination, Kevan said. "Without the bees you don't have blueberries, and without the blueberries you don't have black bears."

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The last paragraph I quote:

["Canadian black bears need blueberries, and the blueberries need bees" for pollination, Kevan said. "Without the bees you don't have blueberries, and without the blueberries you don't have black bears."]

Spells out in stark terms the scope of the issue. Plants invented sex with the development of flowers. They then started using small animals such as bees to serve as matchmakers. Since then, the vast majority of plants now require some form of pollinator. If we were to lose just one, the honeybee, the effects on U.S. crops would be a disaster. And this would not just be a disaster for humanity, but as the above paragraph points out, the entire eco-system as well.

Wild honeybees have been suffering for the better part of two decades now. A large number were wiped out in the 90's because of 2 distinct parasitic infections. I can think of at least 3 major wild hives that I knew of personally that disappeared in the matter of a year or so.

The scientists in this report do not claim to know why there has been such a drop in pollinators in North America...but loss of habitat would be one guess, and increase of pollutants would be another. The cause however is unimportant...the loss of pollinators is one of those benchmark events that highlight the interconnectedness of all life and the impact small, seemingly unimportant changes in it can have.

Related News Links:

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posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 03:16 PM
There are certainly problems with the bees in our area. On the radio yeaterday they was a professor talking about bee mites and the shortage of honey bees. Many fruit and nut crops depend upon bees for polination. Here is a cut and paste about the bee mite that is causing problems.

Varroa mites were first reported in Kentucky in the Bluegrass region of the Commonwealth in 1991. They have spread to and become a major pest of honey bees in many states since their introduction into Florida in the mid 1980's. Varroa mites are external honeybee parasites that attack both the adults and the brood, with a distinct preference for drone brood. They suck the blood from both the adults and the developing brood, weakening and shortening the life span of the ones on which they feed. Emerging brood may be deformed with missing legs or wings. Untreated infestations of varroa mites that are allowed to increase will kill honeybee colonies. Losses due to these parasitic mites are often confused with causes such as winter mortality and queenlessness if the colonies are not examined for mites.

mod edit to used external quote code and supply link

[edit on 19-10-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]

posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 03:23 PM
European honeybees are under a lot pressure now, ranging from Africanized killer bees, diseases, parasites, you name it. The effect it will have on agriculture could be huge. Everyone who has the ability should build a place to keep a beehive.

posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 03:26 PM
Thanks for the idea...I could put a hive in the front of my house to help my garden and keep the crack heads away.

posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 03:34 PM
In many cases, the loss of a particular pollinator would also mean the loss of some, or several, particular flowering plants as the plants have adapted to only use that particular pollinator. The loss of flora due to the loss of pollinators would be a catastrophy of unprecendented magnitude for mankind.

posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 03:51 PM
Who would have thought it...
the worlds crops dont pollinate, and the next thing you know, we all starve thanks to a lack of bees...

I like the crackhead security system idea... I think it has merit...
kills two birds... and saves some bees...

posted on Oct, 19 2006 @ 04:06 PM
BINGO...Thats why I thought it was important to post the article. I like the bee/crackhead system too it has a certian charm....expecially for an old eccentric like me.

posted on Feb, 16 2008 @ 12:54 AM
Don't worry, I am sure Monsanto has a plan!!!

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