Happy Biodiversity Day everyone! In celebration I thought I’d share with you my entry for this year’s University of Northampton Images of Research competition, the winners of which have just been announced (I wasn’t one of them, but congratulations to those who were).
Here’s the text I wrote to accompany the image:
Sometimes it’s difficult to photograph fast-moving bees, but this blurred image of a male Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) captures something of the essence of why plants use pollinators such as bees. Plants are static and cannot go searching for mates, so they sit and wait and use pollen vectors to move their male gametes to the flowers of other plants of the same species. Sometimes this involves wind or water currents; but for most plants this means using animal pollinators.
The bumblebee has been caught with its tongue extended, having just loaded up on nectar to fuel its search for virgin queen bumblebees with which to mate. The plant is a cultivated salvia variety growing in my garden: some of my research group’s work has involved studying pollinator diversity in urban and rural gardens, with a view to understanding the role of these artificial environments for conserving pollinators.