“Flowers feed the world, keep us healthy and make us smile,” says Buchmann, who received his doctorate in entomology in 1978 from UC Davis and is a longtime pollination researcher and adjunct professor in the departments of entomology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona.
But flowers, especially red roses, the most commonly gifted flower on Valentine's Day, can't hold a candle to what most people never think about—that flowers feed the world, thanks primarily to honey bees, bumble bees, syprhid flies and other pollinators.
“Because pollinated and fertilized blossoms turn into nutritious fruits and seeds, these invaluable foodstuffs keep the world's 7.2 billion people from starvation,” Buchmann points out. “These resulting fruits also feed birds, bears and other wildlife.”
And flowers make us a smile. “Give someone flowers, and they flash a genuine Duchenne smile,” Buchmann promises. “Rutgers psychologist Dr. Jeanette Haviland-Jones has infused subliminal amounts of rose and gardenia vs. manmade scents into room air. Subjects use more enjoyment words and were more likely to approach or touch a stranger when the floral scents were present. Flowers may counteract the semiochemicals for fear, anger and anxiety that humans seem to constantly be emitting.
Other reasons for flowers, all detailed in his book, just released Feb. 9 in paperback by Simon & Schuster, include:
- Tasty and Nutritious. “Although the calories from starchy cereals and grain crops feed the world, we enjoy and need the ‘nutraceuticals' and antioxidants inside colorful cranberries, blueberries, oranges and apples,” he says. “They keep us healthy and happy.
- Edible flowers. “Some flowers--that is, roses, some marigolds--are great as edible garnish and foods.” His book relates “which ones can be eaten and what they taste like."
- Humans might never have evolved, or survived. “Early hominids certainly recognized that flowers were the harbingers of tasty fruits. Without flowers, perhaps no people today.”
- As costly as gold. “Saffron is the world's costliest spice and the subject of countless fake imitations,” Buchmann says. “The spice is the dried styles from crocus blooms. Hand-picking and the fact that this represents such a tiny fraction of the entire plant, make it so costly and precious.”
- For inspiration and romance. “Flowers have inspired generations of poets, writers and artists. Their myriad shapes, colors and scents enrich our lives with beauty. Their sexuality and alluring scents bring romance into our lives.”
- Most ancient. The world's earliest known flower is the 8-inch tall fossil Achaefructus that grew in China 130-160 million years ago. “It turns out that these and other early blooms were puny runts,” Buchmann says. “They wouldn't win best of show ribbons in any flower show.”
- Flowers in the service of science. “Without Gregor Mendel's crossing experiments with the humble garden pea, we wouldn't have learned about the laws of inheritance when we did. “
Buchmann has published more than 150 scientific articles and 11 popular nonfiction books, including The Forgotten Pollinators (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist) with Gary Nabhan. His book, Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive, is a National Science Teachers' Association Outstanding Science Trade Book. He's also written a children's book The Bee Tree (with Diana Cohn), described as the true story of a family of honey hunters in peninsular Malaysia.
Buchmann's major professor at UC Davis was Robbin Thorp, now a distinguished emeritus professor of entomology who continues his research on native bees. Both continue to teach the annual American Museum of Natural History “The Bee Course,” along with several other colleagues.
"Steve has been on the cutting edge of many areas of pollination biology," Thorp said. "He jumps on to new ideas with great enthusiasm and explores them in depth. He has been a leader in areas like buzz pollination, the contribution of electrostatics in pollen harvesting by bees, and adaptations in bees that collect oils from specialized flowers. He raised important issues about the conservation of bees in co-authoring the benchmark book, The Forgotten Pollinators, a decade before colony collapse disorder in honey bees captured the attention of the media and general public. He enjoys new technologies and exploring ways they can be applied to pollination research. At the annual Bee Course in Arizona, he provides a very popular demonstration of life within carpenter bee nests."
Buchmann wears a number of hats. He assists documentary filmmakers as a “bee and flower wrangler,” and served as the chief scientist for the 2013 Disneynature film Wings of Life, narrated by Meryl Streep. He also produced a short film Honey for the Maya, which can be seen on YouTube.
Besides writing and his beloved buzz pollination research (funded by a National Science Foundation Grant), Buchmann enjoys macro and landscape photography, along with making small fine art bronzes in a Tucson foundry.
The former UC Davis doctoral student remembers “walking up and down the stairs to my office in the old insect museum in Briggs Hall; and chatting with botanist/evolutionist Dr. Ledyard Stebbins; studying the pollination of shooting stars (Dodecatheon) near Lake Berryessa, the area that is now the Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve; and riding “back and forth to UC Berkeley and the UC Davis libraries on the free library shuttle.”
He did field work for his doctorate in Arizona, California, Wisconsin and Panama (Barro Colorado Island), and recalls the “wonderful mentorship of Dr. Robbin Thorp and the late Grady Webster.”
And flowers? Yes, many memories of flowers. He fondly remembers “roaming the serpentine rock outcrops of Napa Valley and inhaling the wonderful wine-like floral aroma of western spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) and “opening flowers of Dutchman's pipe festooning trees near Lake Berryessa, “to find their fungus gnat pollinators.”
The event, free and open to the public, will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and will begin with socializing and networking from 6:30 to 7 p.m. It is affiliated with the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, co-founded by Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis and artist Donna Billick.
Patricelli, a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, will present her talk on “Tools of the Pornithologists” from 7 to 7:25 p.m. Patricelli studies bioacoustics, breeding behaviors and the impacts of noise pollution on birds. Much of the research in the Patricelli lab addresses sexual selection and breeding ecology of greater sage-grouse. This has included detailed studies of courtship behaviors using robotic females and microphone arrays, as well as remote telemetry to address how foraging ecology relates to lekking behaviors. The Patricelli lab has also examined the impacts of noise from vehicle traffic and energy development on greater sage-grouse lek attendance, stress levels, and behaviors.
Other speakers are
Jeff Mayry, a master of fine arts candidate in the Art Studio, UC Davis Department of Art and Art History, who will speak on “Dream House” from 7:25 to 7:50 p.m. He received his master's and bachelor of science degrees from Sacramento State University.
Sharon Bladholm, who fuses art with science on scientific expeditions to the Amazon, will speak on “The Interface Between Art, Science and Conservation” from 8:35-9:00. “My work is profoundly influenced by my participation as an artist, on scientific expeditions to remote and biologically diverse ecosystems of the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon on expeditions with the Field Museum, Conservation International and Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program,” she says. She explores the interfaces of art, science, conservation and nature in her many series of artworks in numerous mediums, including sculptural works in glass, bronze and ceramic. In February she will return to Peru with Project Amazonas.
In between speakers, networking and socializing will take place from 7:15 to 8:30 p.m., and “anyone can have 30 seconds to share their work, announce an exhibitor or a show or an idea,” said moderator and organizer Anna Davidson. She holds a doctorate in plant ecophysiology from the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences and is currently a master of fine arts candidate in Art Studio, UC Davis Department of Art and Art History.
More information is available on Facebook at! https://www.facebook.com/events/854193051353509/
What's it like in the day of a life of a virgin queen bee?
Extension apiculturist/professor David Tarpy of North Carolina State University will present a seminar on "Young Regality: a Day in the Life of a Virgin Queen Bee" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive, UC Davis.
The seminar, open to all interested persons, is part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's noonhour seminars. It also will be recorded for later posting on UCTV. His host is Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Social insects have long fascinated entomologists, and honey bees have been a model system for their study," said Tarpy, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 2000 with major professor Robert Page, former chair of the Department of Entomology and now university provost emeritus and Foundation chair of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. "At the heart of the colony is a single queen, the mother of all nestmates and critical member for colony productivity. The natural history of queens is a fascinating story, one that interweaves the complexities of social behavior, genetics, and evolutionary ecology."
Tarpy, a honey bee biologist, joined the North Carolina State University faculty in 2003 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Tom Seeley of Cornell University. He received his bachelor's degree in biology in 1993 from Hobart College and his master's degree in biology in 1995 from Bucknell University.
Tarpy focuses his research on the biology and behavior of honey bee queens—using techniques including field manipulations, behavioral observation, instrumental insemination, and molecular genetics—in order to better improve the overall health of queens and their colonies.
Specific research projects include understanding the effect of the polyandrous mating strategy of queen bees on colony disease resistance, using molecular methods to determine the genetic structure within honey bee colonies, and the determining the regulation of reproduction at the individual and colony levels.
Tarpy's work has provided some of the best empirical evidence that multiple mating by queens confers multiple and significant benefits to colonies through increased genetic diversity of their nestmates.
More recently, his lab has focused on the reproductive potential of commercially produced queens, testing their genetic diversity and mating success in an effort to improve queen quality.
While in the area, Tarpy also plans to address the Marin County Beekeepers' Association on Thursday, Feb.4.
A reception (free admission and open to the public) will take place Friday, Feb. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. The evening will include juror talks from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m., and an awards presentation at 7:30. This is the fourth biannual multi-media display of the artists' work.
“Sharon Bladholm has pursued her artistic vision through the steady acquisition and command of a variety of disciplines, including cast glass, bronze, and ceramic in the sculptural realm, as well as stained glass, printmaking and works on paper,” according to her website. “The recurring theme in Bladholm's work is the interface of people with the natural world, integrating the sciences of anthropology with biology and botany from the plant world.”
Her website indicates that she has "participated on expeditions with the Field Museum, Conservation International and Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program to the Brazilian, Venezuelan and Peruvian Amazon, documenting the life ways of the Yanomami people through her art, and exploring conservation of endangered plant and animal species in isolated communities."
Young will speak from 6 to 6:45 p.m. about the selection of the work for the current show. He is a professor in the physics department of American River College, Sacramento. He and his wife, a new faculty member in the UC Davis Design Department, have created art/science connections for years. For one of their major shows, "One Moment in Time," they explored sound. Of that art, Young writes on a web page: "Sound is a unique quality Earth possesses. Our planet wouldn't be what it is today without sound. However, moment after moment, sound is generated, then disappears like the ocean waves crashing onto the shore and parishes without a trace. If you could see sound and capture the image, what would sound look like? We use the physics of sound propagation to calculate and visually map sound using our innovative real-time, 3D, sound visualization model." (See images)
The show includes the work of local favorites as well as artists throughout the country. Among the local artists is Anna Davidson, who recently received her doctorate at UC Davis in the Department of Plant Sciences and is now studying for her master of fine arts degree. She organizes the UC Davis LASER (Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous) events.
The Pence Gallery is open from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays. For further information on the show, contact the Pence Gallery at (530) 758-3370.
The research, published in the early online version of the journal Ecography, examined the natal origins of butterflies at four overwintering sites. Each of the four sites showed substantial variations in wing morphological values, indicating local and long-distance, the researchers said.
Natal origins of butterflies collected from the two northern sites--Lighthouse Field State Beach and Moran Lake, both in Santa Cruz County--varied significantly from those collected at the two southern overwintering sites--Pismo State Beach, San Luis Obispo County; and the Coronado Butterfly Preserve, Santa Barbara County, they said.
“We hope that this paper improves our understanding of where monarch butterflies grow up in western North America,” said Yang, an associate professor. “This study uses a naturally occurring continental-scale pattern of hydrogen isotopes in precipitation in order to estimate the natal origins of overwintering butterflies. Building a clearer understanding of where they come from could help us better understand many aspects of their ecology.”
The research is the work of Yang; Dmitry Ostrovsky of the University of Colorado, Denver; and Matthew Rogers and Jeffery Welker of the University of Alaska.
The research team set out to answer two key questions: “How do broad geographic areas of potential natal habitat contribute to the overwintering population of western monarch butterflies in California?” and “How does the individual variation in the wing morphology of overwintering western monarch butterflies correlate with estimated migratory distance from their natal origins?”
They first compared the wings of 114 monarch butterflies collected from the four overwintering sites with a continental-scale monarch butterfly wing isoscape derived from the U.S. Network for Isotypes in Precipitation (USNIP) database. They used spatial analyses of stable isotype ratios and correlations with wing morphology. Then they examined the correlations of monarch butterfly forewing size and shape.
Of the 114 butterflies sampled, they found that 30 percent developed in the southern coastal range; 12 percent in the northern coast and inland range; 16 percent in the central range, and 40 percent developed in the northern inland range.
“Interestingly, the two most northern overwintering sites in the study showed the largest contributions from the southern coastal range (Lighthouse Field, 45 percent; Moran Lake, 37 percent; Pismo Beach, 22 percent; and Coronado Preserve, 24 percent) while the two most southern overwintering sites showed the largest contributions from the northern inland range (Lighthouse Field, 30 percent; Moran Lake, 35 percent; Pismo Beach, 53 percent; and Coronado Reserve, 39 percent),” they wrote.
The researchers randomly collected the monarchs Dec. 4-6, 2009 from aggregations in trees. The collecting resulted in: 19 males and 9 females from Coronado; 22 males and 8 females from Pismo State Beach; 20 males and 10 females from Moran Lake; and 18 males and 8 females from the Lighthouse Field State Beach.
In addition, the male monarch butterflies showed mean total masses that were 5.8 percent larger than those of the females.
The monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) of North America overwinters along the California coast and in the central mountains of Mexico. Previous studies have indicated that the western monarchs or those from natal habitats west of the Rocky Mountains, overwinter along the California coast. Those that develop east of the Rockies overwinter in central Mexico.
Their research paper, “Intra-Population Variation in the Natal Origins and Wing Morphology of Overwintering Western Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus), is can be read in early view at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ecog.01994/abstract. It will be incorporated into an online issue, perhaps within six months, but it has not yet been assigned to an issue, said journal managing editor Maria Persson.
The project was funded in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development Program grant awarded to Louie Yang, and a NSF Major Research Instrumentation Program grant awarded to Jeffrey Welker.
Information on map: Isoscape of estimated δDm values for the wings of monarchs originating throughout western North America, based on a weighted average of precipitation δDp values throughout the growing season (see Methods). Isoclines are shown at δDm = –130, –115 and –100‰ to show four broad regions; estimated δDm values become increasingly negative moving inland and northward. Pie charts show the proportion of individual monarchs from (a) Lighthouse Field, (b) Moran Lake, (c) Pismo Beach and (d) Coronado Preserve with δDm values that correspond with the four isoscape regions. Filled points represent precipitation collection sites in the USNIP database; unfilled points represent overwintering sites. (Courtesy of Louie Yang)