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Don’t be fooled by cheap visualization tricks! If you’re a person who digests graphs from the media (i.e. anyone), make sure you know the ways people can lie with graphs: I think it’s fair to call me a minimalist, given that everything I owned fit into a suitcase a couple of weeks ago. But […]

Pollinators make an awesome study system

I’ve told the story before about how I got into studying pollinators (you can read that here). I did a large, two year field study where I manipulated the presence or absence of a single plant species in a community of flowering plants and then I recorded the response of the insect community. After collecting […]

Buzz-pollinating bees in Costa Rica

A friend of mine* makes these amazing slow-motion videos of buzz-pollinating bees (head-banging bees!). I could have sworn I’ve done a post about buzz-pollination, but I can’t find it, so I’ll summarize here. Some flowers have specialized anthers that are fused. This makes it difficult for visiting insects to get pollen from the flower. The […]

Skunky smells and pollination

For my series on unusual pollinators, in honour of national pollinator week, I’m going to focus on the smellier side of pollination biology. Like Skunk Cabbages! So that video shows how cool Skunk Cabbages are, but it doesn’t focus on the unusual pollinators that are attracted to stinky smells and heat. In most cases, the […]

Reptilian Pollinators

Another group of unusual pollinators I want to highlight this week is the reptilian pollinators.  Naturally, they are not the first group one would think of, but some reptiles are nonetheless critical pollinators. For example, there is a gecko on the island of Mauritius (a fascinating island in many ways, e.g. the former home of […]

What’s up, honey…possum?

Honey possums* (Tarsipes rostratus) are tiny (really tiny! about half the weight of a mouse)** marsupials that live in southern Western Australia.  And since I’m featuring unusual pollinators this week, the honey possum*** is a natural place to start. These tiny animal subsist on nectar and pollen, just like a bee does.  They tend to […]

Yucca Moths

I’m always fascinated by coevolution, and especially by coevolved mutualisms, but in the plant-pollinator world, the tight, specific interactions that have typically characterized coevolution are the exception rather than the rule.  Indeed, most plant-pollinator interactions are generalized to a great extent. That’s why those few exceptions, the tight specialized interactions, are so interesting.  I’ve written […]