insects as pollinators

Thu May 30 13:21:45 CDT 1996

>Dear Taxacomers:
>We are preparing a teachers manual on insects for our live gallery and need a
>reasonable ball park estimate of what percent of vascular plant species,
>worldwide, depend on insect pollinators. Does anyone out there have some good

Dear Ross,

A couple of years ago I set about trying to answer this very question by going
through the angiosperms family by family, working out which genera had records
of wind pollination, and looking at phylogenetic patterns. It was supposed to
be a "spare time" project while I was doing my PhD, but it soon took over my
life!  I had to stop WAY short of any answer - the angiosperms are just too
diverse and there is just too much information to collate - it would take a
full-time researcher at least a year to get any kind of result.  The problem is
that a number of "insect" families have "wind" genera e.g. Fabaceae,
Asteraceae, and some "wind" families have "insect" species e.g. Poaceae.
Digging through the literature is a big task!  In short, there isn't an answer
to this.  If I were pressed, I would give a guesstimate that more than 95% of
angiosperm species are biotically pollinated.  But it could be more than that.

Best wishes,


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