SEX OF THE FLORAL KIND


 “Written by Claudia Farren with assistance from Bill Boothe of Nature in Focus.” 

Flower pollinators are in decline. The loss of honeybees around the world due to pests, disease, loss of habitat, pesticides, and changing weather patterns has been widely publicized in the last few years. Native bees and other pollinators are also in decline.

Pollinators are a keystone species group; the persistence of a large number of other species depends upon them. As pollinators disappear, the effect on the health and viability of crops and native plant communities can be disastrous. – Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

Pollen allows plants to reproduce by germinating seeds. Wind, humans, and other animals such as bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, and some birds  move pollen within a plant (self-pollination—anther and pistil are from the same plant, but not always from the same flower) or between plants (cross-pollination). Pollinators assist flowering plants while in turn the plants provide food for pollinators and their offspring.

What is Pollen?

Pollen is the male sex particles of plants containing protein, vitamins, steroids, lipids and minerals. Not only does it fertilize flowers but also provides food to the eggs [ovule]. Pollen is disseminated by insects, wind, birds, mammals and water.

RAGWEED POLLEN. 4000x. DARTMOUTH ELECTRON MICROSCOPE FACILITY.  Like most grasses ragweed pollen is dispersed to other ragweed plants by wind.

COLORIZED POLLEN. A RETOUCHED PICTURE FROM DARTMOUTH ELECTRON MICROSCOPE FACILITY.  This photo shows pollen from a variety of common plants: sunflower, lily, primrose, morning glory (the big green one in the middle), and castor bean.

Pollination is the transference of pollen from the anthers of one flower to the stigma of another. In flowering plants the stigma is on the end of the pistil. Once pollen is transferred to the stigma, it travels down the pistil to the ovule where fertilization takes place and seeds are produced.
 
We usually think of insects such as bees and butterflies when we think of pollination, but beetles, hummingbirds, moths, some wasps and flies, and even humans are also important in pollen dispersion.
 
SCARAB BEETLE ON A PRICKLY PEAR CACTUS. Scarab beetles are found throughout the world except for Antarctica. Some common ones are the June bug, the Japanese beetle and the dung beetle. Often brown or black in color, tropical varieties can be iridescent or have a metallic sheen like this one above.
BEETLE ON ASHE MAGNOLIA. Beetles are the largest order of insects with over 350,000 species. This one—on an Ashe magnolia flower—is covered with pollen. The Ashe magnolia grows well in northern Florida. It is a small tree with big flowers and big leaves and has a sweet smell –all excellent attractants to pollinators. 
TWIN-SPOT SKIPPER ON IRIS. Pollinators are attracted through odor, shape, color, and arrangement of the flowers.  
HELICONID BUTTERFLY WITH POLLEN ON PROBOSCIS. In invertebrates, a proboscis is an elongated tubular mouthpart used for piercing or sucking food. During feeding, it is extended to reach the nectar of flowers. When not in use it is coiled under the head.
MONARCH BUTTERFLY ON PURPLE THISTLE. This monarch butterfly is using its proboscis to extract nectar from a thistle. The thistle plant attracts many pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds.
 
 
HONEYBEE INSIDE BUTTERFLY PEA. Worker honey bees—non-reproductive females—are specialized for pollen and nectar collection. Their hind legs have a pollen basket that can carry large amounts of pollen back to the colony. European honey bees (not native to the U.S.) are social bees, meaning they share the work of building a nest and caring for the offspring. The principle social bees in the Americas are the honey bee and the bumble bee (native).
“About 75 percent of all flowering plants on Earth rely on animals to transfer their pollen, that makes about one in every three bites you eat,” says Kristen Potter, an insect physiologist at Northern Arizona University. “In fact, bees are so important to flowering crops that captive honeybees are sometimes driven from crop to crop at different times of the year to help pollinate plants around the country. However, due to a number of factors such as disease, habitat loss, and pesticides, bee colonies are currently on the decline. Both feral and captive bees have been threatened by these issues, but this is why the native bee species are especially important.”
There are around 4,000 species of native bees in North America, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “They have been maintaining flora diversity of North America for thousands to millions of years, and they’re essential to continuing that,” says Rich Hatfield, conservation biologist with the Xerces Society.
 BEE ON BARTRAM’S IXIA. Some of Florida’s native bees are digger bees, sweat bees, plasterer bees, leafcutter bees, bumble bees, cuckoo bees and carpenter bees. Carpenter bees are one of Florida’s major pollinators in wild and urban habitats. Most native bees are unlikely to sting unless disturbed, grabbed, or stepped on
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NATIVE BEE ON BARTRAM’S IXIA_2, ULTRAVIOLET VIEW. Many flying insects are attracted to ultraviolet light. Some flowers use UV light as a “come hither beacon.”  In this photo a bee is on top of an anther.
DIGGER BEE ON RAYLESS SUNFLOWER. The females rear their young in soil tunnels underground often close to one another, but have no social structure like honeybees. In a “colony” that sometimes number in the hundreds, each female digs out nest cells and collects pollen for her young. Digger bees visit a wide variety of flowers and are important in pollination.

What you can do to help pollinators:

  1. Plant a pollinator garden of native flowering plants with blooms of varying shapes, colors, and sizes. Have something that blooms every month of the year, not just spring and fall.
  2. Plant native host and nectar plants for butterflies from the aster family, pea family, various passion vines, and the milkweed family. Some of Florida’s native milkweed host plants for monarch butterflies include: Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), A. perennis (aquatic milkweed), and A. tuberosa (butterfly weed).
  3. Don’t use pesticides and herbicides.
  4. Provide nesting sites with bundles of hollow plant stems or PVC pipe in a sheltered area of your garden. Make a brush pile in your yard and leave old tree stumps and dead trees on your property. Do remove hazardous snags.
  5. Provide a water source. For butterflies and bees place rocks or sand in a bird-bath bowl that is placed on the ground.
  6. Sponsor or attend a pollinator workshop in your area. Spread the word!

If you would like to get a workshop going in the Panhandle please contact Bill or Marcia Boothe at (850) 643-2583. If you are in another area of Florida contact your local NRCS (National Resources Conservation Service) office at:  http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/fl/contact/

More valuable information on invertebrate protection is at: http://www.xerces.org. Also an excellent source is the book Planting a Refuge for Wildlife – Creating a Backyard Habitat for Florida’s Native Animals.

Thank you to Bill and Marcia Boothe of Nature in Focus for the photos and also the title of this article. Their website is at http://NatureInFocus.com . A direct link to their butterfly and skipper photos is at http://natureinfocus.com/galleries/butterflies/ .

More pollen photos: http://remf.dartmouth.edu/pollen2/pollen_images_3/index.html

Colorized pollen photos: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Misc_pollen_colorized.jpg

Pollination Graphics: http://www.blog.gurukpo.com/pollination; http://corporate.britannica.com/pollination and http://corporate.britannica.com/termsofuse.html

 

More information on native milkweeds can be found at www.monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/milkweed-profiles.

 

Article sources: http://www.coopext.colostate.edu/4DMG/Pests/diggers.htm; http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/MISC/BEES/euro_honey_bee.htm; http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/scarab/; http://www.floridata.com/ref/m/magn_mac_ash.cfm ; http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/467948/pollination

 

 

 

 

 


Arthur R. Marshall National Wildlife Refuge Marsh Photography Project

 

Edited by Claudia Farren, Comments Under Photos are by Charles O. Slavens

This photo montage comes from Charles O. Slavens who lives near the Arthur R. Marshall National Wildlife Refuge located in western Palm Beach County. These images are frame grabs from several videos featuring fish and wildlife in the refuge. The captions are his own observations from long hours of filming. His work on the project started in November of 2013 and is on-going.

 

“The camera is near the bottom of the pond looking straight up. The small fish are most likely bluegills, who often follow gators hoping they will stir up some food.”

 

“A bluegill following an alligator.”

 

“In the background, on the right, is an anhinga, which is high on the list of water creatures I want to capture in video. When they travel through a school of fish they appear to be surrounded by a force field about two feet across. I’m assuming that the fish have set that as just outside the strike zone.”

 

“A bluegill near the surface on a sunny day.”

 
 

When the blue tilapia cruise through the area they follow generally repeated routes. Here I placed the camera in a pathway on the bottom looking upward.” (Blue tilapia, nonnative, are found throughout Florida.)

 
 

“This is a bullhead (catfish), which is usually near the bottom. I placed the camera in a narrow pathway and pointed it upward. This was during a period of little rainfall and the water level was very low, which makes it very cloudy.”

 
 

“A largemouth bass. The perspective is exaggerated because of the wide angle lens. It’s rare for one of these guys to get this close to the camera as they tend to lay back and watch the activity. I’ve witnessed only one attempt by one of them to grab another fish . . . the fish got away.”

 
 

“Kind of rare for a shiner to get this close to the camera. They’re fast swimmers and are not interested, unlike the bluegills who routinely bump up against the lens.”

 

“The sunfish here also is not all that interested in the camera and tends to hang back.”

 

This is a juvenile sunfish. I’m interested in the entire life cycle of these critters and do a lot of my photography in shallow areas that I call the nursery. If he wandered out another 20 feet into the pond he’d make a nice snack for a largemouth bass.”

 

“Florida softshell turtle.”

 

Biography of Charles O. Slavens:

I bought a camera in a pawn shop while stationed in the Army in Texas where they had a darkroom on the base. I’m completely self-taught. I bought 100-foot rolls of black-and-white film and loaded my own film cassettes. I devised little photo projects wherever I  happened to be stationed. I didn’t know it at the time but I was developing an eye for street photography, which remains a major interest. Some of the photos I shot during that period are still part of my portfolio.

When I got out of the Army in San Francisco I drove across country to New York City to pursue a career in photography. Photographically, it looked like the most exciting stuff happening in the big city was in fashion.

As a fashion photographer’s assistant, when I wasn’t on the set, I was in the darkroom learning and perfecting various printing techniques and refining my sense of composition. After a while, I began to see that the culture surrounding the fashion industry was not where I wanted to be. While still at the studio I took film production courses at NYU and switched over to filmmaking. I worked for various film producers as a cameraman/editor and eventually began soliciting my own clients.

Today, I’m retired and do photo and video projects about subjects that interest me. I went digital and started shooting wildlife and nature shortly after I moved to Florida in 2004. I like to zero in on a subject and examine its habits in detail and I prefer shooting in areas that are not heavily trafficked by people just out for a walk.

The Video Project:

The fish video idea first popped up in November 2013 and it is on-going. We’ve all seen tons of footage about life in the sea with oceanic fish swimming in crystal-clear water. The problems facing a photographer in a marsh-water system are different.

Because there’s not a fast moving current, any debris that is kicked up does not quickly go away. So, you have to find another way to put your camera in the water. Over the last several months I’ve developed various rigs for doing that.

The other problem is that you cannot see what is in the camera frame. I’m using a GoPro which has a wide angle lens. In addition, you cannot judge reliably from above the surface what might be in front of the camera. So, I just turn the camera on and leave it on for various periods of time. The camera’s position in the water and the direction in which it may be pointed will be determined by which fish I’m tracking at that time.

The fish still photos [seen above] are low resolution video frame grabs. This camera is shooting at about 1/30 of a second, which is very slow for stills. When making these little photos I try to compensate for the inherent focus problems by processing the frames in Photoshop. In the video they’ll seem to be in focus because of the nature of “persistence of vision”.

The water in the swamp is heavy with particulate matter, most of which you can’t see. This is deceiving because it looks clear from above the surface. But all that invisible stuff changes the color temperature of the water drastically and the deeper you go the more monochromatic your scenes become. Depending upon the location, depth and weather, the scenery can look like black-and-white film that’s been dyed greenish-yellow.

You’ll get more Audubon-like images if you shoot with the sun behind you. The dramatic stuff comes from the sun behind the subject . . . just like above the water . . . same rules apply.

I hope to finish my fish videos by the end of summer.

Below are links to other video projects. I think there are about eight (8) nature video and some other videos on different topics. I think VIMEO is probably the least cluttered. If the links don’t take you directly to my page, just Google, in quotes: “Charles O.Slavens”.

 

Two New Exhibits are MUST-SEES at the Museum of Florida History in Tallahassee

By Claudia Farren, Communications Consultant

Do you live in Tallahassee or are you coming for a visit this spring or summer? The Museum of Florida History has two new exhibits, the Springs Eternal exhibit and The Lure of Florida Fishing that you won’t want to miss. Florida’s springs are suffering from pollution and loss of flow. John Moran’s exhibit, Springs Eternal, hopes to influence citizen behavior and public policy through his photographs of both pristine habitats and those that are not so pristine anymore. The Lure of Florida Fishing exhibit is a fun walk-through of sport fishing history in our state. Sport fishing has enticed fishermen and tourists to the Sunshine State since the nineteenth century. In 1885, tarpon were traditionally taken by harpoons. When an angler caught one on a rod and reel, the first “Florida fishing craze” was born.

 

The Springs Eternal exhibit is currently showing at the Musem of Florida History at the R. A. Gray Building, 500 S. Bronough Street in Tallahassee.

Florida outdoor photographer, John Moran, has been photographing his favorite Florida springs for 30 years. Through his photographs presented at the R. A. Gray Building near the State Capitol, he has documented the progression of too many of our Florida springs as they have turned from pristine jewels to ones polluted by algae and mats of weeds. This process has been fed in large part by nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients contained in the run-off from storm drains, fertilized lawns and septic tanks. Some springs even suffer from a loss of flow due to overpumping from the underground water supply, made worse by a running drought in Southeast. Levy Blue Spring was closed to the public for Spring Break in 2012 due to low water levels. Convict Springs on the Suwannee River and Poe Springs on the Santa Fe also had record low flows in 2012. Moran says on one of his display boards, “This project is a visual celebration of the springs we were given, a meditation on the springs we could lose, and an invitation to the people of Florida to fall in love with our springs all over again, mindful that the choices we make today foretell the Florida of tomorrow.”

 

Algal bloom at Devil’s Eye Spring, 2012, Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Algae tints the water green and weeds cover most of the white sandy bottom.

 

Then….

 Now…

 

“Here in Florida, we need a new way of thinking and doing for the next 500 years – a mindset of environmental patriotism that defines wellbeing in terms larger than dollars.” – John Moran

 

With his photos John Moran hopes to bring an understanding of why our springs are in decline and inspire all Floridians to find effective, timely solutions. Mr. Moran has partnered with Lesley Gamble and Rick Kilby to bring together scientists, hydrogeologists, cave divers, business owners, artists and advocates through the Springs Eternal Project to restore our springs and aquifer.

The Problem:

Pollution, groundwater over pumping and regulatory neglect are ruining our springs.

Some Solutions:

  1.      Use less water in your daily life.
  2.      Grow native and use less chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
  3.       Visit a spring.
  4.       Volunteer or donate.
  5.       Contact your elected officials. Tell them you want clean water. Not green water. Ask for tighter controls on groundwater pumping, more effective curbs on nutrient pollution, and greater protection for  sensitive land nearby.

   6.      Stay informed.

 

To see more of Mr. Moran’s photos of Florida’s beautiful springs and how you can become part of the solution explore SpringsEternalProject.org. The “Springs Eternal” exhibit was previously on display at the Florida Museum of Natural History in Gainesville. All photos are from the exhibit.

 

The Springs Eternal photographic exhibit is showing at the Museum of Florida History in the R. A. Gray Building, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL. 850-245-6400. It runs through May 30, 2014.

LINKS:

Florida Wildlife Federation Clean Water Initiatives  Florida Wildlife Federation’s Clean Water Policy and links to Clean Water related articles.

Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration Campaign  The Floridians’ Clean Water Declaration is a positive vision to inspire people to work together to create a new water ethic, find solutions to Florida’s water quality and quantity problems and send a clear message to our water managers that the people of Florida demand clean water.

 Florida’s Water and Land Legacy The campaign to protect Florida’s most cherished waters and natural areas. The Amendment gives Florida voters a direct opportunity to keep drinking water clean, protect our rivers, springs and beaches and restore natural treasures like the Everglades—without any increase in taxes.

Proposed Rule Would Close Gap in FL Water Protection  March 27, 2014

The Obama administration has proposed a new rule to clarify which types of water have Clean Water Act protection.

Silver Springs No Longer the World’s Biggest First Magnitude Spring

 

Also showing at the Museum of Florida History . . .

The Lure of Fishing exhibit spotlights the history of sport fishing in the Sunshine State from the late nineteenth century to the present with artwork, historic photographs and over 100 artifacts. One wall has twenty-two paintings by William Aiken detailing individual species of fish from the early twentieth century. You will see fish mounts, deep sea fishing rods, reels including a Hendryx casting reel circa 1900-1919, vintage tackle and coveted trophies from the West Palm Beach Fishing Club and the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament. There are even photos and stories of some of Florida’s most famous fishermen – baseball great Ted Williams, author Zane Grey and of course, Ernest Hemingway.

 

The mighty tarpon was the first game fish to attract large numbers of tourists to Florida.

Florida has a long history of lure making. Some lure makers formed large companies; others set up working space in their homes and made lures for their friends. Frank and Linda Carter of Tallahassee loaned their lure collection to the museum. It spans from 1908 thru the 1940s.

 

Back in the good ol’ days, fishing line was made of cotton, silk or linen and had to be dried between fishing trips. If the line was used in saltwater it had to be rinsed with fresh water before drying. The line was wrapped around a line dryer to dry.

 

 

Be sure and play the Wii game that helps you learn the proper technique to reel in a fish. Or, use the touch screens in the next booth to learn how long it takes trash in Florida’s lakes and shorelines to decompose.

Throughout the spring and summer the Museum of History will host educational programs to accompany the fishing exhibit. The Joe Budd Aquatic Center will host a hands-on presentation, “Where Fishes Live: Habitat and Anatomy. Tom Knowles will lecture on the Long Key Fishing Camp that opened in 1908 and touted some of the “best fishing in the world.” Also scheduled is a cooking demonstration by Chef Justin Timinieri, of the Florida Department of Agriculture. Other speakers are renowned Florida fishing and outdoor writers Doug Kelly, Terry Tomalin, and Mark Sosin. Schedule of Events.

Come visit Tallahassee’s Museum of Florida History and learn why Florida is named the “Fishing Capital of the World.” The Lure of Fishing exhibit will be on display until August 26, 2014.

About the Museum of Florida History: The Museum of Florida History is part of the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs and is located in the R. A. Gray Building at 500 S Bronough Street, Tallahassee, FL. Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Sunday and holidays, noon to 4:30 p.m.  Website.  Phone: 850-245-6400. Free parking is available in the garage next to the R. A. Gray building.