|Bee on flower. Credit: USFWS.|
Bees do it. Flies do it. Pollinate, that is.
But what happens when the piñon and Ponderosa pines and aspens of northern Arizona -- vegetation pollinators call home -- move up the mountain as precipitation patterns change due to climate change?
Some pollinators rely on specific plants. But can they use a broader spectrum of plants? Can they live at higher elevations to get to the plants they need? And what if they can’t?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Arizona Ecological Services Field Office is addressing those research questions as it works at five sites with the Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research Center at Northern Arizona University to compile the first-ever baseline about the diversity and behavior of pollinating insects at varied elevations in northern Arizona.
Changes in the precipitation patterns in northern Arizona are affecting Ponderosa pine in the highest elevations of the San Francisco Peaks. Photo by Ron Hemberger/USFWS
Pollinators are critical to maintaining diverse, healthy ecosystems. The Service is entrusted to protect at-risk pollinators, such as hummingbirds and pollinators on national wildlife refuges – and threatened or endangered species that rely on animal pollination. More than 75 percent of flowering plants, which provide fruits, seeds nuts, and nectar for wildlife, depend on pollinators. Recent studies indicate some pollinators are already being impacted by climate change.