The Impact of Declining Bee Populations in Neotropical Rainforests
Seventy five percent of the plants that humans use for food and medicine require bee pollination and, if we do not do something to stop the extinction of these crucial insects, we may see a significant decrease in our own population. Global awareness of the importance of bees when protecting our ecosystem has increased over the last several years as a direct result of the decreases in bee populations. Bees in Neotropical rainforests are particularly important. These ecosystems depend on the rainforest and the rainforest depends on bees. To understand the importance of bees, we must understand how pollination works.
How Bees Pollinate Plants
Plant reproduction occurs when pollen is transferred from the male portion of a plant to the female portion of a plant. The male part of the plant is called the stamen and it is in the stamen that pollen originates. Bees get their nourishment from the nectar of plants. When a bee or other pollinating insect (or primate!), feeds on the nectar of a plant, some of the pollen gets stuck to tiny hairs on the bee’s body and the bee carries it to the next plant from which the bee will feed. When the bee lands on the second plant the pollen from the first plant is transferred to the carpel, which is the female part of the plant. Pollination produces fruit, and fruits produce the seeds that will produce more plants.
Neotropical Forests and Pollination
Neotropical rainforests host over 70% of the Earth’s species and they are considered to be the world’s most diverse ecosystem. The Amazon is a Neotropical rainforest, and humans depend on the plants in the Amazon for foods such as cacao, papaya and cashews. Twenty percent of the world’s oxygen comes from trees that grow in this rainforest and many medicines are made from plants that grow here. Without bees in the ecosystem the majority of these plants will become extinct. In order to stop this from happening some companies have started awareness campaigns.
What is causing Bee Extinction?
Bee populations are declining due to deforestation, the use of pesticides and climate change. When plants are cut down, food sources for bees are lost. Pesticides not only kill bees in general, but they weaken their immune system making them more susceptible to fatal mites. Climate change causes winters to be warmer and this confuses plants. Many of them will have bloomed and died by the time bees come out of hibernation.
If you want to help protect bee populations, reduce your use of pesticides, only patronize companies that use rainforest sustainable products and work to reduce your carbon footprint.
kindly contributed by Karoline Gore