We’re in Denmark, so I had to use the old Carlsberg meme. And anyway I stole it from Jane Stout who used it on Twitter this morning. So there.
Day 2 of the SCAPE conference has been, like day 1, enjoyable and stimulating and full of things that made me think “wow, I did not know that”. Here’s a few examples:
The day kicked off with two talks on pollen limitation in plants by Amey Iler and James Rodger. Both challenged some preconceived ideas about the nature of pollen limitation: Amy that it was independent of flowering phenology and James that biodiversity hot spots were more likely to be pollen limited. Amy found that pollen limitation is more likely to occur early in the flowering time of some plant populations, but not all. James showed that the South African flora was significantly less pollen limited than expected.
Marcos Mendez also challenged us to re-think whether or not reproduction by plants has a cost on other aspects of plant growth and survival: his meta-analysis suggests not and I hope he writes up the work soon. But, as Marcos mentioned, he has a lot of on-going reviews to complete….
Beate Strandberg discussed the subtle effects that herbicides can have on non-target plants in non-target habitats, via drift from agricultural fields. Specifically they can reduce the number of flowers and delay flowering time in plants that are important pollen and nectar sources for pollinators. Expect to hear lots more about this in the future: it’s not just the neonicotinoid pesticides that are worrying researchers.
Finally Soren Nedergaard has spent a winter on Tenerife in the high altitude lava deserts of Las Canadas, one of my favourite places to do field work, and discovered that some of the plants and bees are active for 12 months of the year! I’m still trying to digest that finding, I don’t know of any other ecological communities that have the same plants and pollinators interacting all year, every year. Is it unprecedented? Does anyone know of other examples? Even in the tropics plants tend to have a rest period when they don’t flower.
That’s it, just a quick flavour of day 2 as it’s almost 6pm and time for a beer, though not a Carlsberg: they only serve more exclusive beers here….