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Pollinators are essential for humans’ way of life and for the stability of nearly our entire ecosystem. They perform an essential portion of the reproduction cycle of modern flowering plants. While pollen-producing plants have been around for approximately 250 million years, flowering plants and their co-evolved pollinators have only been around for the last 100 million. Beginning with just a few plants species adapting to rouge beetles, there now more than 300,000 known species of pollinator-dependent plants.
Pollinators themselves have also exploded with diversity over the past 100 million years. There are an estimated 16,000 species of bees alone, and each one participates in pollination. There are over 10 times as many butterflies and moths, accounting for almost 10% of all living species. And, a surprising number of ants, wasps, beetles—pretty much every insect group you can think of—participate in the reproduction cycle of flowering plants. Hummingbirds are the buzzy equivalent to their bee brethren, filling a similar niche in the avian world. Though with increased mass comes the increase in energy requirement, so hummingbirds consume roughly half their weight every day.
Pollen producing plants and their pollinating partners are cornerstones of our modern ecosystems and responsible for most of our food production. Roughly three out of four bites of our food rely on pollinators as part its production. Everything from apples to zucchini requires pollinators in order to produce their tasty bits.
Our well-being aside, pollinators are key to almost every plant species, and thereby almost a quarter of all living species heavily rely on them. This is either directly through the consumption of pollinators (bats, or birds), or the plant life they support (large creatures like bears). You can learn much more about the miracles of pollination by visiting the full-length article via the button below.