Migratory Pollinators

I mentioned the book “Forgotten Pollinators” on Monday of National Pollinator Week, and I wanted to follow up on that today. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (ASDM) hosts a Forgotten Pollinators Website to help focus interest on some of the lesser known migratory pollinators.

While pollinators in general are facing many threats, migratory pollinators are most at risk:

“While protection of plant/pollinator interactions is an emerging national priority, ecological conditions of migratory corridors for pollinators have received far less attention than conditions at wintering grounds in the south and breeding/birthing grounds in the north.  “Nectar corridors,” a term first used by bat ecologist Ted Fleming (Fleming et al. 1993) specifically for pollinator corridors, are a distinctive type of migratory corridor comprised of a series of stepping stones placed in a dissimilar matrix.  They are the migratory routes that pollinators follow in order to take advantage of a sequence of plants coming into bloom along a south-to-north gradient in the spring and the reverse in the fall.”

There has to be an actual sequence of flowering plants as the animals move north and south on their migrations. There also has to be safe roosting or resting sites for the animals as they travel.rufous hummingbird

A change at just one point in the migratory journey can spell disaster for a migrating population–and the plants they service:

“There is consensus among biologists that many migrant roost sites have already been lost, migratory corridor habitats have been converted or fragmented, invasive plant species are out competing many floral resources upon which these migrants depend, and many of the flowering plants these migrants visit are suffering low seed set due to pollen decline.”

While I am rather biased towards insect pollinators, ASDM also covers some of the mammalian and bird pollinators that are less well known.

If you live in a migratory corridor, consider planting some of the plants important for migrating pollinators.

This photo of courtesy of FreeSpirit5.

15 thoughts on “Migratory Pollinators

  1. Turn off unwanted lights at night and let bugs live. At night insects are sucked from habitat by LP(sometimes called LAN) as if by a “vacuum cleaner”. Let our bugs live to pollinate crops. It also saves money.

  2. Have you heard of CCD? Check out the Ecological Consequences of Artificial Night Lighting edited by Rich and Longcore, Island Press, 2006 and then get back. All the very best. Graham.

  3. Dude. I have written extensively on CCD. And lighting at night has nothing to do with it.

    I have heard nothing but good things about that book, BTW. But it mostly covers insects other than bees. Europe is in a very different situation than the US. Many rural areas of the US are still mostly dark, thank goodness.

  4. “Dude” I am not even going to comment.
    BTW “Many rural areas of the US are still mostly dark, thank goodness.”
    Clearly you keep your eyes closed?
    All the best. Graham.

  5. I still see a lot of black on that map. Which pretty much supports what I said.

    Is there any particular reason you’ve chosen to visit my blog and be an ass?

  6. “..and be an ass?”
    Sad that you have this prejudice but then there are none so prejudiced as those who will not see?
    All the very best, Graham.

  7. I feel that we are not helping each other with these comments.
    I originally wanted to contribute to your blog and frankly I cannot see why you have described me as “an ass”!
    I believe that I can help you?
    Please allow me to do so.
    Today I contacted the ASDM.
    Is there any way that we can communicate “off blog”?
    All the very best.
    Graham.

  8. I was going to post something similar Graham, but you beat me to it. I have agreed with nearly everything you have said, but you didn’t seem to notice that. I agreed that light at night is an issue, and that the book you cited was a good one. But:

    Honeybees are not attracted to lights at night. And CCD has no relation to nighttime lighting. And there ARE still rural places in the US with low lighting.

    I interpreted your comments about bees to be fairly snarky. Your behavior seemed similar to a lot of people I get here at the BugBlog that have an agenda, and will single-mindedly pursue it–regardless of the actual topic. It is difficult to determine tone on the internet, and if I miss-attributed snark to you where there was none, I am sorry.

    I’m really glad you’re interested in working with the Sonoran Museum. That’s great.

  9. “Honeybees are not attracted to lights at night.”

    If the level of local light pollution is intense, then it may trick diurnal insects such as bees into thinking it’s daylight. Consequently they may be attracted to lights.

    If this happens on a large scale, as it does in cities, then it may have adverse effects on insect populations in surrounding areas.

    I have seen this happen in rural Africa where I worked for many years, and such intense lighting attracted other diurnal species such as cicadas, grasshoppers, dragon flies and dipterous flies.

  10. Colin Henshaw wrote these words in May 1994 –
    “As the insect population declines, this will have an effect on the predators higher up in the food chain which feed on them. This would include many birds, lizards and frogs and small mammals. These effects would be above and beyond those already caused by loss of habitat through urbanisation.
    Many insects are pollinators of flowering plants, so as the insect population goes down the number of flowers successfully pollinated may also decline. This will lead to fewer plants and less plant diversity in years to come. Since many insects feed on plants the size of the insect population will further decline as we have fewer plants”.
    It seems to me kinda prophetic? This is archived at Harvard. Should I post its URL? Graham.

  11. Colin:
    But…how many people are actually rearing honeybees in an urban situation?
    The vast majority of honeybees are rural, or at least suburban.

    It’s something that has not been reported as a problem. Perhaps it could be in time, but not yet.

  12. Graham, you are now talking about insects in general, rather than bees.

    I am NOT arguing with you that light at night is an issue, just that it is not an issue with honeybees. CCD has not been found to have a correlation with where the bees are located (urban/rural), and even the association with trucked bees is a bit loose.

    BTW, I have some upcoming posts on the issue of bug zappers and pollinating and predatory insects. That’s probably one of the worst form of light pollution for insects. And there are some bees that do forage at night. Just not honeybees.

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