Pollination, its importance to ecosystem
Published On April 12, 2018 » 1184 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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The are two main seasons in Zambia, the rainy season (November to April) corresponding summer, and the dry season (May to October/November), corresponding to the winter season. It is also during summer that a lot of fruit tree pollination is thrives. In order for fruit to develop, pollination must occur at blossom time.
Pollination
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the male part of the flower to the female part of the flower. Pollinators such as bees do play a huge role in this activity, while moths, butterflies or other insects are usually responsible, but sometimes, fruit trees are pollinated by wind, rain or birds. Bees and other pollinators are essential to healthy ecosystems, they fertilise crops, fruits and flowers essential for food production, gardens and wildlife.
However, some types of fruit trees maybe pollinated with their own pollen and are considered self-fruitful or self-pollinating. Other types of trees require pollen from a different variety of the same type of tree and are considered self-unfruitful or self-incompatible.
Cross-pollination
The transfer of pollen from one variety to a different variety of the same type of tree is called cross-pollination. Cross pollination is essential for most fruits such as plums, apples, pears and cherries; and while maybe considered non-essential in some cases, cross pollination does indeed improve the form and the number of fruit form by fruit trees.
Self-pollination
Typical examples of self-pollinatingtrees that do not need another to complete the pollination process include: apricots,nectarines, peachesand sour cherries; while that requiring a pollinator and trees that need to be pollinated by another variety of trees such as apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries.
Pollinating scheme
Therefore, it is usually recommended that a pollinating scheme be set up so for greater success of fruit tree pollination as sometimes self-pollination may actually not provide optimal results. Providing good habitats for pollinators will also help to support a wide range of other invertebrates and seed and insect eating birds, as well as small mammals.
As such government, as well as private institutions under their land management should also include a number of actions across a range of services to highlight the importance of, and decline in pollinators, to protect and seek opportunities to enhance habitats that are valuable to pollinators, and to deliver in the design and management of land under its control; especially as bee communities, both wild and managed have been declining over the last 50 years as pesticide use and urban areas have increased.
Creating a pollinating scheme will assist with the: promotion of semi-natural vegetation to enhance pollination; enhancement of bio-diversity within new developments through the design and management of open spaces; and further opportunities to creating low maintenance habitats that will benefit of invertebrates, including pollinators.
Benefits of a pollinating scheme
This will then assist the country with increased plantations because the movement of pollinators always allows for the movement of pollen which then allows for them to reproduce by setting seeds. However, pollinators don’t know or care that the plant benefits as they only pollinate so that they can get nectar and/or pollen from flowers to meet their energy requirements and produce offspring.
But it is from pollinators that we are able to have functioning ecosystem as such they play a critical role in maintain the earth’s species. Plants pollinated by various pollinators are healthier, produce larger and more nutritious fruits, while having higher yields. This way, they play an important role in generating sources of nutrition for many species including us.
Ecosystem services of pollination
However, there are many other ecosystems services that pollination performs for us. This includes water purification, carbon sequestration, organic matter degradation, all of which are of the utmost importance for our wellbeing and health.
According to Greentumble some of the environmental benefits of pollination are detailed partially as follows.
Carbonsequestration
A staggering 80% of all flowering plants require pollination to reproduce as without pollination, there would be just a small fragment of flowering plants on earth, and much less facilitators of carbon sequestration. Flowering plants utilize thecarbon dioxidefrom the atmosphere for growing through the process ofphotosynthesis. During photosynthesis they release oxygen as a waste product of their metabolism;
Pollination & Water cycle
The water cycle consists of many complex physical processes, and one of them is the process in which plants return moisture from the soil into the atmosphere through transpiration. Plant transpiration makes up to 10% of total moisture content in the atmosphere, with the other 90% coming from evaporation from water surfaces. A fully grown tree can transpire as much as 760 liters (200 gallons) of water per year. In fact, forests therefore, affect local climate by contributing to cloud formation and the amount of precipitation over the area;
Pollination & Biodiversity
Thisstimulates health, resilience, and the productivity of ecosystems. Without pollination there would be significantly lower diversity of flowers, crops, grasses and trees. To get a better idea, imagine life without foods the majority of us takes for granted such as apples, onions, cherries, or potatoes.This is just a small fraction of goods that would disappear, if there was nopollination. Needless to say, the animals and insects which are dependent on many of these plants as their source of food and shelter would go extinct along with the plants in question;
Pollination &Water for drinking
Vegetation cover helps to slow down the rain falling on the ground. This is extremely important not only as it preventssoil erosion, but also for replenishing groundwater levels. By decreasing runoff from the surface, more rain water is actually soaked up through the soil and ends up in natural groundwater reservoirs. This hydrologic process is a key natural mechanism for purifying water rendering it safe for drinking;
Pollination & Nutrition
Research in 2011 reveals shocking facts about the decline of pollinators can be linked to the availability of key nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. According to their data, 98% of vitamin C comes from vegetables and fruits that depend on common pollinator species.Similarly, essential to our body vitamin A is found in around 70% of pollinated plants.
Pollination & Ethnobotany
Humans have been dependent on a variety of plants for food, medicinal purposes, shelter, or fuel. Some plants have played a very important role in our traditions, and even though we do not realize it very often they have helped shape the modern culture.The study ofEthnobotanysimply investigates the way in which native plants have been used by different cultures over the centuries. This compresses the wisdom of our ancestors about the co-existence of humans and other living creatures on this planet. Without the process of pollination, the cultural importance of plants would be much poorer.
Pollinators
Thus, pollinators perform quietly on a daily basis without us even noticing. It is an extremely important process, that makes life on this planet rich, healthy and diverse. Perhaps it is time to learn from this brilliant complexity and harmony between plants, animals and their environment which is occurring naturally just outside our door.
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The Plant – A – Million Initiative is a tree planting movement with the expanse and ambition to become Africa’s premier example of a ‘Tree-based economy’. The vision of the initiative is to create a ‘Tree-based Economy’ which will enable to mitigate climate change with economic benefits for Zambia. Growing Money from Trees!
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