How bees activate natural medicine against parasite infection. Pollinators and herbivores influence each other's evolution. Tiny sensor used to track monarch migrations.
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Photo: Peterwchen, Wikimedia Commons
(Northwestern University) Rebecca Barak, a plant biologist at Northwestern University and the Chicago Botanic Garden, is using her expertise in seed biology, restoration and biodiversity in tallgrass prairies to explore lawn alternative plantings that are both attractive and beneficial to the environment. Earlier this month, Barak received one of the first Biota Awards for biodiversity research from the Walder Foundation. She and four other scientists are being recognized for their research which aims to restore, protect and conserve biodiversity in the Chicago region and around the world.
(ScienceDaily, Florida Museum of Natural History) For the last decade, biologists have documented a worrying decline in insect abundance, which some fear may prelude an arthropod apocalypse. These studies, however, are primarily carried out in temperate regions while the tropics, which harbor the vast majority of insect species, largely remains a black box. In a new study, biologists turn to the aid of park rangers in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park – considered one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet – to assess changes to insect abundance.
(New Scientist) A U.K. citizen science survey has found the number of flying insects splatted on cars dropped by 58.5% between 2004 and 2021, after drivers counted how many were squashed on their number plates. The rate of decline is similar to that reported by a 2017 study, which found a 76% drop in flying insect biomass in Germany over 27 years.
(Twitter, Mike Kaspari @MikeKaspari) “Every student of Ecology learns that the variety of species decline as you move north or south from the equator. In a new paper... we show the truth is more delightfully complex. And we do it for the most diverse set of animals on Earth! ... the diversity of invertebrates from a huge network of pitfall traps *increases* as you go from south to north. Why is this important?” Original paper
Photo: Niagara Beeway
(CBC) Losses in the honey and bee industry could surpass the billion-dollar mark in Canada this year due to a massive die-off of bees. “This is the worst that we have ever seen and I’ve been doing this for 50 years.”
Photo: Natubico, Wikimedia Commons
(Twitter, Lynn Dicks @LynnDicks) “Lots of excellent action, but overall not as effective as they could be. Saving bees demands rethinking some big things like agriculture, finance, pesticide regulation” Original paper
Photo: Hauke Koch, RBG Kew
(Phys.org, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) A team of researchers collected nectar and pollen samples from linden and strawberry trees at Kew Gardens in West London to determine how bees process the beneficial compounds found within. The researchers found that two compounds naturally found in the nectars of these species are activated by the bees’ digestive processes, the gut microbiome, or a combination of both.
(Twitter, Sarah McPeek @sarahjmcpeek) “Can pollinators and herbivores influence the evolution of each other’s interactions with a shared plant species? ... Indeed, we find that plants evolve to produce more nectar when herbivores are present! More surprisingly, pollinators affect the evolution of plant-herbivore interactions, too!” Original paper
(Twitter, Dr Beth Nicholls @BethBees) “@NatalieHempel @SeanRands @cristinabotias and I ask whether behavioural adaptations that maximise bee foraging efficiency may also reduce disease transmission” Original paper
(The Scientist) Cravings for sugary treats and other “wants” in humans are driven by the activity of dopamine-producing cells in our mesolimbic system. Experimental research now suggests that a similar system might also exist in Apis mellifera, spurring them to “want” to search for sources of nectar. Researchers found that bees’ dopamine levels were elevated during the search for food and dropped once the food was consumed. Dopamine may also help trigger a pleasant “memory” of the sugary treat, as dopamine levels rose again when foragers danced to tell other foragers about the foods’ locations.
(Marquette University) A research team found that bees that were fed antibiotics had stronger learning capabilities than those not exposed to antibiotics. “The results were the exact opposite of what we had predicted.”
(The Conversation) “Until now odd and even categorisation, also called parity classification, had never been shown in non-human animals... We don’t yet know how the bees were able to perform the parity task.”
(Twitter, Pierre Lau @MississippBees) “We reviewed and assessed different methods for analyzing the nutritional content of bee pollen. Bee pollen is highly complex and variable, and we need to disrupt the pollen wall to fully extract the nutritional content.” Original paper
(Prof. Jeff Ollerton) “Now, defining honey as something made by honey bees strikes me as a circular argument at best. And it also neglects the ‘honey’ made by meliponine bees that is central to the culture of stingless bee keeping by indigenous groups in Central and South America, and the long tradition pre-colonial tradition of honey hunting by Aboriginal Australians. So if we widen our definition of ‘honey’ as being the nectar-derived fluid stored in the nests of social bees, then Apis honey bees, stingless bees and bumble bees must all, by logic, make honey. And likewise there’s wasps in the genus Brachygastra from Central and South America that are referred to as ‘honey wasps’ because, well, I’m sure you can work it out!”
Photo: Tierney Shaible
(ScienceDaily, University of Pittsburgh) Scientists have developed a tracking system that can be attached to monarch butterflies and transmit data about their location all throughout their three-month migratory journey south.
One More Thing…
From Nicole @fossilforager via Twitter: “This was a recent commission I worked on for Justine, who studies bees!! Thank you SO much for the trust, I had a lot of fun working on this!!”