CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLINATORS
What is Pollination?
Pollination allows the plants to reproduce. All sexually reproducing plants produce offspring (seeds) through pollination. Pollination is the transfer of pollen from anther to the stigma of a flower or different flowers of the same species. Once the pollination occurs, the plant produces seeds and fruits. Pollination takes place with the help of BIOTIC (wind, water etc.) and ABIOTIC (animals, birds, insects, bees and so on) agents.
Why is pollination important?
Pollinators such as insects are dependent on the pollen and nectar for their survival. Animals, including humans, are dependent on the seeds and fruits produced after pollination. 75- 85 % of plant species on the earth rely on pollination for the process of reproduction. One out of the third bite of food produced globally is through pollination. Pollination plays a vital role in the functioning of the ecosystem. Now it is evident that pollination is essential for the sustenance and balance of the ecosystems, enabling the organisms to survive.
How does the climate change affect the pollination?
There are two approaches to discuss the impact of climate change on pollination:
- The effects of climate change in flowers or plants
- The impact of climate change in plant pollinators
The impact of climate change in flowers and plants
In short, we can say that climate change affects the life cycle of plants. Change in climate results in extreme weather conditions and irregularity of the seasons across the globe. It impacts the biotic (weeds, insects, fungus, bacteria, and so on) and abiotic (sunlight, temperature, rain, humidity, drought, salinity, air, soil, pollution, magnetic fields, and so on) variables that contribute to plant growth. Examples are the texture, water holding capacity, pH, moisture content, and other soil characteristics. Together the change in biotic and abiotic factors affects the physiological functioning of plant life. The output is decreased photosynthesis, pollen sterility, leaf senescence, alteration in plants’ blooming season, etc.
The impact of climate change on plant pollinators
The pollinators are affected adversely as the plants undergo certain modifications and adaptations to withstand the changing climate. Due to the rising temperature, plant species bloomed earlier than the expected time. As a result, there is an irregularity in pollination behaviour, with pollinators out of sync with pollination. Bees, one of the primary pollinators, are now at risk of habitat loss due to the changing climate. The rising temperature favours the growth of insects, pests and weeds, thereby resulting in the increased use of pesticides, insecticides etc. These pesticides reach the pollinators and affect them badly. Neurotoxic pesticides decrease the ability of bees to recognise their hives. Studies show that neonicotinoids in herbicides affect the navigational system in bees and impact the reproductive success of wild pollinators. These are very few examples that affect pollinators, i.e. impacts in pollinators are broad.
What can be done?
The only way to undo these effects is to start protecting the environment. Before you start to do something, think about whether it harms nature, not through words but actions. Climate change is a global crisis. It is time to recognise that the earth is for humans and all living organisms. And we should live in an understanding that we are only one element of the natural web. As a result, each individual’s thoughts should be the starting point for change.
It’s not about ME; it’s about US!
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