Wildflowers are changing their tactics due to a shortage of insects

About the episode

Insect populations around the world are not doing well, and this has a ripple effect on the rest of nature. Many plants depend on insects for pollination, so you can imagine the consequences if the number of those insects suddenly became fewer or higher.

French scientists have now studied this effect further and have seen that wildflower plants are adapting to new conditions. They are increasingly evolving towards self-fertilization. This sounds like good news, but that’s not quite the case.

They discovered this when they compared violets growing near Paris with seeds from the same plant and location collected between 1992 and 2001. It turns out that modern flowers are 10 percent smaller, produce 20 percent less nectar, and are received less by pollinators.

This is suspected to be directly linked to the rapid decline in insect populations in Europe. In this research they now show that there is a vicious circle: reduced nectar production can also have a negative impact on insects. This in turn means fewer visitors and therefore less nectar.

According to the researchers, this once again shows how important it is to take measures as quickly as possible.

Read more about the research here: Wildflowers are increasingly doing without insect pollinators

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Megan Vasquez

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