Wildfires disrupt moth-flower relationships, increasing risk of extinctions
New research in Portugal suggests wildfires disrupt unique relationships between flowers and the specialized moths that pollinate them.
In the wake of wildfire, wildflowers take advantage of an ecosystem cleared of larger plant species. Post-fire wildflower blooms prove a boon to daytime pollinators like bees and butterflies, but new research showed moths, which visit flowers at night, aren’t so lucky.
When scientists surveyed moths from sites across Portugal, they found the insects carry a surprising amount of pollen. In the spring, 95 percent of the moths captured and analyzed were carrying pollen. Scientists also found the pollen of 80 percent of the native flower species being carried by surveyed moths.
However, pollen levels measured on moths caught in areas recently scorched by wildfire were five times lower than moths found in fire-free areas.