Sarah Falzan: This is the 60-second science of Scientific American. This is Sarah Falzan.
Many plants and animals use temperature and other environmental cues, such as calendars, to let them know when to bloom or to find a mate.
Matthew Austin: If we move on, you will notice that many different species have emerged. Dwarf crested iris, blue phlox, Canadian wood betoni.
Fazan: Matthew Austin He is a postdoctoral researcher of the Life Earth Cooperation Organization at the University of Washington.
Located about 40 miles west of St. Louis, this forest is covered with local wildflowers throughout spring and summer. But in recent decades, the timing of their flowering has changed, Austin said.
Austin: The warming climate will not only cause flowers to bloom Earlier, But in many species, this also causes them to stop flowering Later.
Fazan: Compared with the data collected in the 1930s and 1940s, the blooming time of Missouri wildflowers is one week longer than before. This caused the accumulation of simultaneous flowering in late summer species.
At the same time, bumblebees and other pollinators are flying from one species to another, saying Nicole Miller-Stratman, A biologist at Webster University.
Nicole Miller-Stratman: When pollinators decide who to visit, this affects the pollen they carry. Not surprisingly, flowers do not really need pollen from other plant species.
Fazan: Flowers that get pollen from the wrong species may not reproduce—or it may encourage some pollen to self-pollinate… an extreme form of inbreeding.
To understand how this might affect reproduction, Matthew Austin has been artificially pollinating hundreds of Missouri wildflowers this year.
Some experimental flowers obtain pollen from their own species. Others obtain pollen from different plant species to mimic what is happening now, as climate change causes the accumulation of species that bloom at the same time.
To prevent pollinators from visiting his flowers, he put a transparent mesh bag on the flower buds before they opened.
But when he took off the bag and dropped the pollen on the sticky stigma of the flower, a small bee landed on it.
Austin: Oh no, it just got stuck there. When I opened its bag, the pollinator came in. They are very cunning. So this one will not be included, but fortunately there is another one.
Fazan: He continued to look at the next flower, a man doing the work of a bee, meticulously.
This is a slow process-but Austin hopes that the results will help us understand how climate change is reshaping this complex ecosystem.
For the 60-second science of Scientific American, I’m Shahla Farzan.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]