A new study highlights the importance of nocturnal pollinators in Himalayan ecosystem
By Rahul Kumar
Insects are the most important pollinators. Pollination is directly linked to food security. Pollination is essential for sexual reproduction and the generation of genetic variability in most angiosperms. Most studies revolve around diurnal insect pollinators. Studies pertaining to nocturnal pollinators are limited. Diurnal pollinators are considered more significant pollinators. A study conducted by a group of Indian scientists highlights the importance of nocturnal pollinators and emphasizes that nocturnal pollinators can also be significant pollinators. This study was recently published in Nature Scientific Reports. Earlier studies pertaining to nocturnal pollinators were limited to only one or few species in India. For the first time, a large scale survey and study were conducted to delineate the significance of nocturnal pollinators with respect to diurnal pollinators.
In this study, 140 moth species were collected over a period of 13 months using light traps from the Himalayan ecosystem of North-East India. These moths are the representatives of 6 families and 18 subfamilies of settling moths. Out of these 140 species, which were called “pollen transporter moth species” (PTMS), 91 moth species were found to carry five or more than five pollen grains of one or more than one angiosperm. These 91 moth species were termed as “potential pollinator moth species” (PPMS). The proboscis of the moths was studied under a microscope to spot and identify the pollen grains. Pollen grains of 21 plant families were reported on the proboscis of these moths. The largest number of pollen grains belong to the family Betulaceae followed by Fabaceae, Rosaceae and Ericaceae. Similarly, the largest number of PPMS were found to be from the moth family Geometridae followed by Erebidae, Noctuidae, Crambidae, Drepanidae and Nolidae. Six moth species were found to carry the highest quantity of pollen (more than 1000 pollen grains). Seasonal and altitudinal distributions of these moths were also studied where Geometridae was found to dominate as well. A pollen transfer network was constructed using data from 140 moth species and 21 plant species to delineate moth-plant interaction. This network identified 98 moth species to be specialists and the rest to be generalists. Similarly, 9 plant families show complete specialism in relation to moths.
This study highlights the importance of moths as important pollinators and discusses moth-plant interactions in detail, especially in the context of the Indian subcontinent building a strong ground for further such studies in India. This study is also important for Conservation Biologists. Being significant pollinators, moths of the Himalayan region also need special attention from the conservation point of view.
For more details, please refer to:
Singh, N., Lenka, R., Chatterjee, P. et al. Settling moths are the vital component of pollination in Himalayan ecosystem of North-East India, pollen transfer network approach revealed. Sci Rep 12, 2716 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-06635-4
Rahul Kumar is one of the Associate Editors of IE. He is working as Assistant Professor of Zoology at Department of Zoology, Sheodeni Sao College (Magadh University), Kaler-824127, Arwal, Bihar, India.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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