Flowering plants and insects often exist in mutually beneficial relationships. We are familiar with the idea that insects such as honey bees are. Evidence from the fossil record and from the inferred ecological and phylogenetic relationships between flowering plants (angiosperms) and their insect. The plant/herbivore relationship traditionally has been seen as lopsided, with Insects, birds, even bats are important for perpetuating plants.
Many trees, all grasses, and plants with inconspicuous flowers are designed for wind pollination. Bright, showy flowers evolved for another purpose—to attract a pollinator. Many plants depend on animals for pollination.
Insects, birds, even bats are important for perpetuating plants. The flowers of these plants evolved in concert with their pollinators, and their form reflects the form and habits of their pollinators. Bee-pollinated plants are often irregular in shape, with a lip that acts as a landing pad to facilitate the bee's entry into the flower. Butterfly-pollinated flowers are often broad and flat, like helicopter pads. The flowers of many plants are brightly colored to attract their insect pollinators, and many offer nectar as an enticement.
Hummingbirds, with their long beaks, pollinate tubular flowers. Bats require open flowers with room for their wings, such as those of the saguaro cactus. In the tropics, birds and bats take the place of insects as pollinators.
Hummingbirds and honeycreepers, for example, have distinctive beaks that have evolved to exploit flowers. Often, a beak may be so specialized that it is only effective on a small group of flowers. The pollinators, in turn, have evolved to take advantage of the flowers.
A successful pollinator typically has good color vision, a good memory for finding flowers, and a proboscis, or tongue, for attaining nectar. Animal pollination has obvious advantages for plants. Many pollinators cover great distances, which insures genetic diversity through outcrossing, or the transfer of pollen to unrelated individuals. The pollinator benefits as well by gaining access to a source of food.
The relationship of pollinator plant is an example of mutualism. Imperiled Pollinators All is not well in the realm of pollinators. The age-old relationships between plants and pollinators is threatened, especially in urbanized and agricultural regions. Habitat destruction and fragmentation, pesticide abuse, and disease all have taken their toll on pollinators.
As more land is cleared for human habitation, bees, butterflies, bats, and birds are left homeless. Our gardens offer little to sustain them. They need a constant source of nectar and pollen throughout the entire season. The few flowering plants most people grow will not suffice.
A related problem is fragmentation of plant communities.
Plants must be pollinated in order to set seed for the next generation. Without pollinators, no seed is set and the plants eventually die out, leading to local extinction. Isolated patches of forest, grassland, or desert are particularly vulnerable.
A small patch may not sustain enough pollinators, or may be too far from other patches for pollinators to travel. As a result, plants do not reproduce. Pesticides have also reduced pollinator populations. Bees are often killed by chemicals applied to eliminate other pests. Honeybees are being destroyed by diseases and parasitic mites. The crisis is not just affecting native ecosystems.
Plant-insect relationships - btcmu.info
Fruit trees and many other food crops depend on pollination for production. We stand to lose over three quarters of our edible crops if we lose pollinators. What can be done?
Encourage pollinators by planting a diverse mixture of adult and larval food plants in your garden. Erect bat and bird houses, as well as bee hives.
Reduce or eliminate pesticide use. Help restore native plant communities not only in your yard, but also in parks and along roadways, and connect them through corridors to preserves and other natural areas.
Plants and Their Dispersers No two plants can occupy the same spot. In order to have room to grow, seeds must be dispersed away from the parent plant. The yucca plant has evolved a flower that is shaped so that it can only be pollinated by the tiny yucca moth.
Sciencing Video Vault Plant Reproduction bee on purple flower with pollen on leg image by. Within their blooms, plants produce ovules and pollen, which both contain genetic material that must be combined in order to create seeds.
The seeds have the potential to grow into mature plants. Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, flies and even some beetles can carry pollen from one flower to another.
For self-pollinating flowers, insects move pollen to the parts of the flower that need it. Some insects can carry pollen over long distances, which can help to spread genetic diversity in a plant population. Protection red creeper om green acacia image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia. An article from Marietta College describes the relationship between acacia ants and acacia trees. The ants get food and shelter from the tree; in return, they kill other insects that could eat the acacias and even deter some animal herbivores from eating the leaves, as well.
In some environments the acacia ants will destroy other plants growing nearby in order to give their acacia more room to grow.
How Do Insects Benefit Flowering Plants? | Sciencing
Farmers sometimes buy ladybugs to assist with crop management. While ladybugs serve as excellent pollinators, they also eat aphids. Aphids are very tiny insects that harm food crops by sucking the liquids out of the plants that can weaken or kill them. Food amazing pitcher plants image by Shirley Hirst from Fotolia.
These unusual flowering plants live in areas where nutrition is scarce.