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Plastic Bees

There has been a flurry of excitement in the media over a recently-published observational study describing the “behavioural flexibility and adaptation” of solitary bees to our “plastic-rich environments”. In a nutshell, during the course of a larger field study looking at wild bees in urban landscapes, researchers in Toronto discovered that some urban Megachile bee species in the city had lined their nest cells with plastic materials. Continue Reading »

The British Ecological Society has just published a ‘virtual’ journal issue on pollinator ecology, with all articles free to download for any reader, regardless of whether you have subscription access to the society. The articles are drawn from all five of the BES journals and cover all sorts of topical issues to do with honey bee health and biology, pesticide impacts and how management processes impact pollinators in agricultural landscapes.

And if this virtual issue isn’t enough for you, the Journal of Pollination Ecology is another permanently ‘open access’ peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles covering lots of different aspects of the wonderful world of pollination.

So click on the links to read the latest research on what modern life as a pollinator involves!

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‘Tis the season for countdowns and annual nominations! Nature and Ecology rarely rate a mention in such frivolities, although some sites have listed insightful round-ups of the top environmental stories of 2013. Most scientific countdowns for 2013, or predictions for 2014, are dominated by gadgetry and technological fancy. So, I hereby doubly-nominate ecosystem services as the “most influential” ecological concept of 2013, and the “most likely to inspire positive change” in 2014! Continue Reading »

Recently, I was kindly awarded a blog award from a blogger whose thoughts I also enjoy reading, the delightfully-named Snail of Happiness. Rather than ‘officially’ passing the award baton, I am just going to pass on the favour by reviewing a few of my great blog discoveries. Some of them I’ve been reading for a couple of years, some I’ve only discovered recently, but all of them are wonderful and have kept me inspired (and a little bit more sane) while I was orbiting The Thesis’ event horizon. I hope they will inspire you too. Continue Reading »

Learning From Nature

Thank you to Rachel Bates, a freelance field ecologist from the UK, for asking me to write a guest post for her website Ecology Escapades. Rachel is keen to showcase the different kinds of work that ecologists do, and my post talked about doing field ecology research as well as the ecological significance of my study area in Victoria’s beautiful Murray Mallee region….

One of the most rewarding things about being an ecologist is the time you get to spend with Nature. As a research ecologist, those times don’t happen as often as you would like - we now spend more time at a computer, reading theory and background information, analysing data, writing papers and applying for grants to do more research. However, doing field work gives you the chance to experience magnificent ecosystems, landscapes and wildlife that you might not have seen as a tourist. Those experiences, however fleeting, make the data analysis and administrative headaches all the more bearable!

Read the rest of my story here

© Manu Saunders 2013

Pollinators Love Plants

Wild pollinator insects, especially bees, like diversity in their life. It’s not that they’re fussy, they just like to have different resources for nesting and foraging to choose from – just like us. This diversity in resources is important because wild pollinator communities aren’t just made up of bees, they include multiple species. We’ve (almost) figured out what honeybees like, and it’s easy to accommodate one species when you know the ins and outs of their biology. But ‘wild pollinators’ could mean solitary bees, bumblebees, huge hairy flies, delicate wasps, tiny midges, thrips, beetles, bugs, weevils, moths or butterflies. Some of these insects, particularly wasps and flies, may also control outbreaks of herbivorous insects, so they can provide multiple ecosystem services. Continue Reading »

The Science of History

With all the troubles in the world, you’d be forgiven for giving up on humanity completely. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s sometimes felt like running away to a hut in the mountains, just to get away from it all – I haven’t bothered yet, because I know it wouldn’t be long before I would be interrupted by some wayward product of civilisation. Continue Reading »

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