...Book Reviews

The Forgotten Pollinators

By Stephen L. Buchman and Gary Paul Nabhan

Shearwater Books/Island Press
July 1996

This has happened to us all...you're walking down the street when all of a sudden, a pesky bumble bee darts toward your face. You swat and swat, but it finds you so interesting that it won't leave you alone. About the time when your arms have grown tired from flapping around and you've sprinted a few meters, the bee finally gets bored with you and takes off. Well, it's easy for us to call that little bee a pest, but if you stop and think about it, that tiny creature is one of the most important units of our ecosystem. That bee feeds us, clothes us, and allows us to breathe. That bee is the pollinator of the flowers.

The Forgotten Pollinators takes us on a journey across the world to meet the bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, bats and many other pollinators that share their lives with the many spectacular plants of the earth. Letting their words be our eyes, we go on a personal voyage to visit the many researchers working to discover the nature of the complicated relationship between plant and pollinator. This book is appealing not only to biologists who get a glimpse of other projects occurring in the world and a reminder of the importance of the plant/pollinator relationship, but also to anyone outside the field because ecological terms and concepts are well-explained, giving them a chance to take a peek inside the realm of biodiversity...and the biodiversity crisis.

This book has come at a crucial time. Due to human intrusion in the form of habitat fragmentation, land conversion, use of pesticides, introduction of exotic species and other destructive acts, many plants and pollinators are disappearing at an alarming rate. The Antioch Dunes of California support an endemic, rare evening primrose (Oenothera deltoides howelli) that once thrived across the over 200 acres of dunes and were thought to be visited frequently by hawkmoths. Today, the dunes have been degraded to less than 30 acres. Only a few hundred individuals of this evening primrose remain, and the hawkmoths have been scarce for at least 35 years. This population will probably diminish completely due to inbreeding depression.

The Forgotten Pollinators is a wonderful opportunity to gain a better understanding of the basic elements of the ecosystem that are often overlooked and taken for granted.

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