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15 September 2010

Study Confirms It: Less Bees Means Pollination Reduction

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It’s no secret that the bee population is declining, but until just recently that was no confirming evidence that the decrease in the natural instances of bees, particularly rurally, was also leading to a subsequent (though logical) decline in plant pollination
Well, fear not. If you’ve ever been on the losing side of an argument about whether be bee decline is “real” or whether it would actually lead to pollination problems, there is now definitive proof of the drop off in pollination.

The proof comes from a study recently released by the University of Toronto. The study absolutely confirms a pollination decline, but in addition to bees it cites climate change as a possible contributor. The study was conducted by James Thomsen, a scientist form the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (you know this is Canada when they freely use the word “evolution”).  And while the study was just recently released, it’s actually a study done over a period of seventeen years on the wild lily in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, making it one of the longest-term studies of its kind, ever.

The study shows a progressive decline in pollination over the years. There are actually strong declines in pollination early in the plant’s growing season. How as this determined? Three times a  year, Thomson would compare the fruiting rate of naturally, unmanipulated flowers to that of flowers that were pollinated by hand.  He began his long term studies in the late 1980s after purchasing the necessary equipment: a plot of land and a log cabin in the middle of a meadow full of glacier lilies. Clearly, we should have paid more attention in science class so that we could have had his life.


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