Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hummingbird 'Tag' Suggests Fragmentation May Be Part Of Pollination Crisis

Date:
February 10, 2009
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
To find out the cause of what's being called a global "pollination crisis," researchers have successfully attached an electronic tracking device to a hummingbird for the first time -- and the darting travels of the tiny bird may be pointing the way to at least part of the problem.

Green hermit hummingbird.
Credit: Image courtesy of

To find out the cause of what’s being called a global “pollination crisis,” researchers at Oregon State University have successfully attached an electronic tracking device to a hummingbird for the first time – and the darting travels of the tiny bird may be pointing the way to at least part of the problem.

In the tropical forests of Costa Rica, this green hermit hummingbird, which is an important pollinator of some forest plants, in essence refused to visit isolated sites and traveled only in narrow corridors of the remaining forest – even if that meant taking the roundabout way back home.

This supports the theory that fragmentation and disturbance of landscapes may indeed be a significant contributor to pollination problems that are plaguing plants around the world, researchers say.

The findings will be published soon in Biology Letters, a professional journal.

“It’s been widely observed in many studies that we’re seeing a global decline in both pollinators and plant diversity, to the point that many ecologists are calling it a crisis,” said Matthew Betts, an OSU assistant professor of forest ecosystems and society. “It’s less clear exactly what is causing this. But it’s a serious concern, since 70-80 percent of all plants are pollinated by animals.”

Most of those pollinators, the researchers said, are insects – but it’s not practical to put electronic trackers on the back of a bee. So the OSU scientists moved up to a slightly larger pollinator that was just barely big enough to handle a transmitter – a hummingbird. With recent advances in the miniaturization of tracking devices and a little non-toxic eyelash glue on the bird’s lower back, they were able to attach an electronic tracker for about two weeks to green hermit hummingbirds that live in tropical forests.

“These birds fly very quickly and in theory they could move easily through open spaces,” said Adam Hadley, a doctoral student at OSU. “But we found that they chose to stick closely to areas with forest cover and take the long route back home, possibly to stay close to food or in fear of predation.”

The birds would move along corridors that connected larger patches of forest, the research found, but would not go through open areas to visit isolated fragments. With no pollination of their plants, the researchers said, it’s likely that plant diversity in these separated fragments will ultimately decline. The study supports the importance of remnant forest strips and riparian buffers that connect separated forest fragments in heavily managed landscapes.

What was observed in this case with a bird in a tropical setting, the scientists said, cannot immediately be extrapolated to what insects or other pollinators would do in a temperate zone.

“This does not prove what other animal pollinators would do in similar circumstances,” Betts said. “However, most animals need or prefer a connectivity of the resources they depend on. This does support the concept that landscape fragmentation is restricting the movement of pollinators, and that may be a part of our pollination problem.

“If we get to the point where almost all patches of forests are fragmented, it’s possible that could completely disrupt forest plant ecosystems,” he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oregon State University. "Hummingbird 'Tag' Suggests Fragmentation May Be Part Of Pollination Crisis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209223515.htm>.
Oregon State University. (2009, February 10). Hummingbird 'Tag' Suggests Fragmentation May Be Part Of Pollination Crisis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209223515.htm
Oregon State University. "Hummingbird 'Tag' Suggests Fragmentation May Be Part Of Pollination Crisis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209223515.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima on Monday as rescuers expanded their search for dozens still missing from landslides around the western Japanese city that killed at least 50 people. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins