Congratulations, Jeff Ollerton, Rachael Winfree and Sam Tarrant for passing 100 citations for their paper “How many flowering plants are pollinated by animals?”, published in Oikos in March 2011.
But Jeff, how did you come up with the idea for the paper?
The idea for the paper arose when I was trying to find a solid figure in the literature for the proportion of plants that are biotically pollinated. It’s an important starting point for any argument about the importance of conserving pollinators, I think: policy makers like to be able to present numbers. Lots of figures were being quoted, from a range of sources, but once you follow the reference chain back through the papers that cite them you find that numbers which are cited as solid facts disappear into speculation and guestimates. Like many of the simple and obvious questions, the assumption is that we “know” the answer. That’s no basis for science-informed conservation policy, but I suspect that it happens all too frequently.
Did you know that the paper would be cited?
To be honest, yes, because a lot of studies and papers are now focussing on the ecology and conservation of plant-pollinator interactions, and our paper provides an initial rationale for why it is important to study them. But I didn’t appreciate quite how well cited it would be, that certainly took us by surprise: over 30 citations per year is a high rate in ecology!