Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

As agricultural riches waylay pollinators, an endangered tree suffers

Date:
July 21, 2011
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
For the conservation of species, hostile territory might sometimes have its advantages. That's according to a study of pollen flow among trees found only in remnant patches of native Chilean forest. The data show that the pollinators those rare trees rely on can be waylaid by the abundance of resources found in agricultural lands. As a result, trees growing in native forest patches are more likely to mate successfully when separated by resource-poor pine plantations than by those more attractive farmlands.

For the conservation of species, hostile territory might sometimes have its advantages. That's according to a study of pollen flow among trees found only in remnant patches of native Chilean forest. The data show that the pollinators those rare trees rely on can be waylaid by the abundance of resources found in agricultural lands. As a result, trees growing in native forest patches are more likely to mate successfully when separated by resource-poor pine plantations than by those more attractive farmlands.

Related Articles


The finding reported in the July 21st Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, contradicts current wisdom that habitats hostile to an organism act as barriers to movement and attractive habitats act as corridors. The research team led by David Boshier of the University of Oxford explain the unexpected findings by what they refer to as the "Circe Principle."

"Many existing models for pollinators in fragmented landscapes assume that generalist pollinators are more likely to travel through attractive land-uses, especially those most similar to native habitat," said co-author Tonya Lander. "The Circe Principle suggests the reverse; pollinators presented with a wealth of resources, whether inside or outside traditionally defined 'habitat' are likely to move through it slowly or not leave it at all -- much as Odysseus was waylaid on Circe's island, preventing his return to the waiting Penelope."

Pollinators presented with hostile or resource-poor lands may not enter at all. But when they do, they are likely to move through as quickly as possible. Earlier models had missed this by focusing on the problem only from the perspective of the trees, not from that of the insects that pollinate them.

"The insects are generalists," Boshier said. "They visit a wide variety of plant species rather than having an obligate relationship with a single species, so they have no specific investment in finding the next tree of the same species." Their goal is simply to acquire the most resources while expending the least amount of energy, whether that's on a farm or in the forest.

The tree the researchers focused on, Gomortega keule, is found mainly in native forest patches within a 70 by 250 kilometer area in the Central Chile Biodiversity Hotspot and depends primarily on hoverflies for its pollination. In 1995, the Chilean government named G. keule a Natural Monument.

The Oxford team used paternity analysis to assign the most probable 'father' to each G. keule seed collected at 'mother' trees. They then used that information to model the probability of pollination between all possible pairs of trees in the study landscape. Rather than labelling land as habitat versus non-habitat as earlier models had done, the researchers divided the distance between trees into the four actual land-use types: agriculture, timber plantations, recently felled pine plantations (clearfells), and native forest.

The landscape model developed by co-author Dan Bebber showed that the probability of pollination was highest over pine plantation, moderate over low-intensity agriculture and native forest, and lowest over clearfells. They found that by changing the proportions of the four land-uses in a one kilometer distance, pollination probability could be altered by up to seven-fold.

The findings have important and practical implications for conservation."The previous lack of differentiation between non-habitat land-use types has contributed to the polarization of the conservation debate and left decision makers with the unenviable task of choosing between economic activity or the setting aside of land for conservation," Lander said.

The results suggest that support for subsistence farms and the modification of management practices to reduce the size of clearfells could have a positive influence on pollinators and pollination. More broadly, the findings support an entirely different way to view the landscape.

"Land should not be thought of simply as either habitat to be conserved or land to be used for economic purposes, rather landscapes may be viewed as a complex mosaic of land-uses, many of which may contribute to conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services if thoughtfully managed" Boshier says.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Tonya A. Lander, Daniel P. Bebber, Chris T.L. Choy, Stephen A. Harris, and David H. Boshier. The Circe Principle Explains How Resource-Rich Land Can Waylay Pollinators in Fragmented Landscapes. Current Biology, 2011; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.06.045

Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "As agricultural riches waylay pollinators, an endangered tree suffers." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721121545.htm>.
Cell Press. (2011, July 21). As agricultural riches waylay pollinators, an endangered tree suffers. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721121545.htm
Cell Press. "As agricultural riches waylay pollinators, an endangered tree suffers." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721121545.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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