The Forgotten Pollinators
Stephen L. Buchmann
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Consider this: Without interaction between animals and flowering plants, the seeds and fruits that make up nearly eighty percent of the human diet would not exist.In "The Forgotten Pollinators," Stephen L. Buchmann, one of the world's leading authorities on bees and pollination, and Gary Paul Nabhan, award-winning writer and renowned crop ecologist, explore the vital but little-appreciated relationship between plants and the animals they depend on for reproduction -- bees, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, bats, and countless other animals, some widely recognized and other almost unknown.Scenes from around the globe -- examining island flora and fauna on the Galapagos, counting bees in the Panamanian rain forest, witnessing an ancient honey-hunting ritual in Malaysia -- bring to life the hidden relationships between plants and animals, and demonstrate the ways in which human society affects and is affected by those relationships. Buchmann and Nabhan combine vignettes from the field with expository discussions of ecology, botany, and crop science to present a lively and fascinating account of the ecological and cultural context of plant-pollinator relationships.More than any other natural process, plant-pollinator relationships offer vivid examples of the connections between endangered species and threatened habitats. The authors explain how human-induced changes in pollinator populations -- caused by overuse of chemical pesticides, unbridled development, and conversion of natural areas into monocultural cropland-can have a ripple effect on disparate species, ultimately leading to a "cascade of linked extinctions."
gains of one species do not occur at the expense of the other. Of course, the ultimate cost of this mutualism is the most obvious one: each of the mutualists suffers reproductive failure when the other can not be found at the right place at the right time. Judith Bronstein of the University of Arizona has observed such an occurrence on the grassland edge of the Santa Rita Mountains, just 30 miles south of her lab, where she regularly works on the biology of the Spanish bayonet, Yucca elata.
other insects seasonally and yearly. This information is then cataloged into invaluable databases including modern “geographic information systems” so that land managers, citizens, indeed any interested person, can tap into this compendium of knowledge. We should be fostering such programs in the United States. It recently dawned on many biologists that these British species, which take refuge in these culturally modified habitats, may be relicts from a warmer period that occurred more than
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