• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Note on Emerging Science

Air Date: Week of January 29, 2010

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

A nighttime camera captured the cricket emerging from an orchid blossom. (Photo: Claire Michenau and Jacques Fournel)

The birds and the bees, and the crickets? Researchers have discovered a new species of cricket that pollinates an orchid. Living on Earth’s Bridget Macdonald reports.

Transcript

YOUNG: Just ahead – sure you’ve heard a cat playing the piano – but just wait till you hear what chimps can do! First this Note on Emerging Science from Bridget Macdonald.

[BUZZING]

MACDONALD: The latest buzz about pollination usually involves bees. Now, scientists have stumbled upon an unusual pollinator – an insect known for hopping instead of hovering.

[SCIENCE NOTE THEME]

MACDONALD: Bats, bees and butterflies are known for spreading pollen between flowering plants as they hunt for nectar. But strange new relationships can blossom when a plant moves out of the range of its natural mate.

European researchers were shocked when they saw the late-night activities of a new species of raspy cricket on Reunion Island in the Indian Ocean. The scientists used night-vision cameras to spy on the nocturnal cricket as it hopped out of an orchid, its head covered in pollen.


A nighttime camera captured the cricket emerging from an orchid blossom. (Photo: Claire Michenau and Jacques Fournel)

Hours of footage proved that the relationship is monogamous: this species of cricket is the orchid’s only partner. The sighting was the first ever report of pollination by an insect in the order that includes grasshoppers, katydids and locusts. The discovery shows how important inter-species partnerships can be in a diverse ecosystem.

And for scientists wondering about the extent to which crickets pollinate, the familiar chorus of nighttime chirping may never sound the same. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Bridget Macdonald.

 

Links

Read the paper on cricket pollination published in the Annals of Botany.

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.