Plant-Pollinator Relationships Compromised When Bee Species Decline

Removing even one bumblebee species from an ecosystem affects plant reproduction

Remove even one bumblebee species from an ecosystem and the effect is swift and clear: Pollination is less effective, and plants produce significantly fewer seeds.

This according to research published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that focuses on the interactions between bumblebees and larkspur wildflowers in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

The findings show that reduced competition among pollinators disrupts floral fidelity, or specialization, among the remaining bees in the system, leading to less successful plant reproduction.

“We found that these wildflowers produce one-third fewer seeds in the absence of just one bumblebee species,” says Emory University ecologist Berry Brosi, who led the study.

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