Conserve Plant Diversity First

At least that’s the message I take from a recent study published in Nature Communications entitled Ecological networks are more sensitive to plant than to animal extinction under climate change.

In particular they found a higher risk of animal co-extinction with plant extinction than vice-versa in mutualist networks. This may be because animals often provide redundant services to plants, and plants have alternative pathways (e.g. self-pollination, parthenogenesis, seed banks, clonality, and/or adult plant longevity) for the reproduction services provided by animals.

While this study used data from Europe in its simulations, the mechanisms invoked should apply to terrestrial ecosystems more generally.


Many insect pollinators depend on a few species of locally occurring early flowering plants like this small white violet (Viola Macloskeyi). The violet has less at stake. Sure, open pollination is good, but it will follow up on this display by producing inconspicuous closed flowers that self-pollinate (cleistogamous), ensuring a means by which to perpetuate itself regardless of insect visitation.


About prairiebotanist
This entry was posted in biodiversity, Conservation, native plants, Weather and Climate and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Conserve Plant Diversity First

  1. Mariette Nowak says:

    Thanks for sharing this article. It certainly supports the importance of Wild Ones mission of championing native plants.

    All the best,



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s