Moths vital to pollination in the Himalayan ecosystem, finds study

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admin February 24, 2022
Updated 2022/03/02 at 3:24 PM
Moths

According to a recent study, moths are vital for pollination in the Himalayan ecology of northeast India. In the northeastern Himalayas, the research identifies 91 species of moths as possible pollinators of 21 plant groups in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

The findings are significant since most pollination research focuses on daytime pollinators (bees and butterflies), whereas the contribution of nocturnal pollinators has received less scholarly attention.

The findings of the research were recently published in Scientific Reports, a publication from the Nature group of journals, in an article titled “Settling moths are the important component of pollination in the Himalayan environment of North East India, pollen transfer network technique shows.”

“About 65 percent of the moths (91 species) in this research transported enough pollen grains to be deemed prospective pollinators. The pollen-carrying capacity of Teliphasa sp. (Crambidae) and Cuculia sp. (Noctuidae) was discovered to be the highest, according to the study.

According to Navneet Singh, the study’s lead author, the Geometridae (geometer moths) and Erebidae (erebid moths, tiger moths, and lichen moths, among others) were shown to be the most significant moth families for pollen movement in the Himalayan area.

“We also discovered that moths often interact with Betulaceae, Fabaceae, Rosaceae, and Ericaceae.” Despite the fact that the Betulaceae is primarily a wind-pollinated plant family, new research suggests that wind-pollinated plant groups also benefit from greater insect dispersion. Dr. Singh, who works for the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI), added

The moth species Achaea janata (a well-known pest of numerous commercially important plants) was found as a possible pollinator of three plant families, suggesting that moths may give net advantages as pollinators even while functioning as larval herbivores of the same species.

The research is significant, according to ZSI scientists, since it demonstrated a high degree of selectivity in moths, which are normally regarded as generalists (i.e., not picky about food plants), and that season and altitude alter moths’ functions as prospective pollinators.

According to Dr. Singh and his co-authors, the study was one of the few large-scale worldwide studies that looked at the influence of different seasons and altitudes on the pollination ecology of moths. It was part of a project financed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The study is based on field studies in Himalayan terrain, ranging from the foothills to altitudes of up to 3,000 meters, as well as laboratory analyses of over 1,800 moth proboscides (mouth parts of moths). Along with Navneet Singh, the other authors of the journal are Rajesh Lenka, Pallab Chatterjee, and Dipayan Mitra.

Moths are often regarded as mysterious inhabitants of the night, and for a long time, they were better recognised as nuisance species, according to Dhriti Banerjee, Director of ZSI.

The significance of moths in nature was shown in this research. When we’re resting in our beds, they’re working diligently to keep the ecosystems running, which are inextricably linked to our existence and contribute significantly to food security, “Dr. Banerjee stated.

The study’s authors emphasise that the relationship between moths and plants discovered via research shows that species interactions are much more nuanced than previously thought.

According to Dr. Singh, India has around 12,000 moth species while the globe has over 160,000 moth species, and the study will help researchers better understand the importance of nocturnal insect pollinators.

According to recent research, moths are essential for pollination in the Himalayan ecology of northeast India.

In this study, approximately 65 percent of moths (91 species) transported enough pollen grains to be classified as prospective pollinators.

The study’s authors emphasise that the relationship between moths and plants discovered via research shows that species interactions are much more nuanced than previously thought.

Source: The Hindu

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