Posted by: cjlortie | February 1, 2011

March 2011 Editor’s Choice: To bee…

Hi there,

I really enjoyed the paper ‘How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals?’ by Ollerton et al.  Quick and clean – not dirty.  Fun to read, really important to conservation biologists and pollination ecologists, and importantly, provides a really useful set of statistics for managers and the literature in general.  I like the way the paper was written as well with a direct and logical approach.  Theory and a need was identified then the gap in the our knowledge was filled.  Global declines in pollinators is a critical issue and this papers adds a missing piece of information, i.e. 78 to 94% of 308 006 plant species are animal-pollinated.  Great!  Also, I liked how enough complexity was included but was not overwhelming – importance of latitude.

The picture shows the endemic Canary Wallflower (Erysimum scoparium) on Tenerife with its main pollinator, a solitary bee (Anthophora alluadi).

Photo by Vikki Price.


  1. Thanks for the kind words, Chris, I’m glad you enjoyed the paper! The idea for it arose when I was trying to find a solid figure in the literature for the proportion of plants that are biotically pollinated. Once you try to follow the reference chain back through papers you find that figures which are cited as solid in fact disappear into speculation and guestimate. Like many of the simple and obvious questions, the assumption is that we “know” the answer. That’s no basis for science-informed policy!

    I’m under no illusion that this is the final word on the matter – hopefully future research will critically test our figures and hone their accuracy, and also include the gymnosperms. But I’m willing to wager a beer or two that we are in the right ball park with these numbers!



  2. Hi Chris –

    Just to let you know your instinct about our paper was correct; as of this week it’s notched up its 100th citation according to Web of Knowledge. The less conservative Google Scholar suggests puts it at 164. And to think it was almost rejected by Oikos….. 🙂

    Thanks for the support!


    • Peer review is variable at best. I am super glad this one worked out!

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