Gary Nabhan and I are bumping along in a rental car down a two-track dirt road that follows the edge of Sonoita Creek’s floodplain, some 29 kilometers north of the Arizona–Mexico border.
Nabhan—an ethnobiologist, conservation biologist and agroecologist at the University of Arizona and author of more than 30 books on food, farming and nature—tells me how extraordinary this borderlands region is for pollinators: native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, even nectar-feeding bats. And now he is giving me a tour to illustrate his point.
“This changes everything”–the line that Donald Trump stole from Naomi Klein (who referred to climate change, not emails) can only be authentically used in relation to one amazing news story this week: The front page Sunday NY Times article by Danny Hakim “Doubts About a Promised Bounty: Genetically Modified Crops Have Failed to Lift Yields and Ease Pesticide Use.”
Food Chain Restoration for Pollinators: Regional Habitat Recovery Strategies Involving Protected Areas of the Southwest
The steep declines over the last quarter century of wild pollinators in the Southwest among native bees, monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus L.), hummingbirds, and nectar-feeding bats have come during a time of accelerated climate change, and are likely due to a variety of stresses interacting with climatic shifts.
Depleted monarch butterflies and honeybees could get a boost from Iowa farmers over the next few years, thanks in part to lower commodity prices that have prompted landowners to shift more than 100,000 acres of row crops into habitat for creatures vital to pollination.
Over the past four years, Iowa farmers have enrolled 127,005 acres in a federal conservation reserve program designed to sustain butterflies, bees, wasps, birds and bats — with all but 15,000 acres being added in the past year, according to the Iowa Farm Service Agency.
Swaths of Midwestern wildflowers planted by well-meaning governments and nonprofits to attract bees may be inadvertently harming them. That’s the surprising finding of a new scientific study that concludes a bee-killing pesticide carried by wind or water from nearby farms is landing on the wildflowers, putting pollinators at risk.
Scientists spent two years examining wildflower plots planted around Brookings. Testing for the presence of clothianidin, a neonicotinoid insecticide commonly used in corn growing, they consistently found the insecticide on the wildflowers — even in those planted on organic farms where no pesticides are used.
The next time you’re tooling down the highway somewhere in America, take a look around: Those miles of medians and roadsides along our highways offer unexpected environmental benefits.
All those broad, green strips along the nation’s highways turn out be vital habitats for many small critters, as well as pollinators including bees, butterflies and birds.
The western population of monarch butterflies is in steep decline, according to a recent study released by the Xerces Society, having fallen 74 percent in the past two decades, from roughly 1.2 million in 1997 to fewer than 300,000 butterflies in 2015.
Studies have documented the drop in eastern populations over the past several years, but this is the first time we’ve been able to understand the risks to the western population, which resides west of the Rocky Mountains.
On March 9th 2016, just days after we’d heard the good news that monarch numbers had rebounded to cover just over 4 hectares of forest in the mountains of central Mexico; a huge winter storm hit their wintering sites and the surrounding area.
The storm began with rain and was followed by hail, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. The freezing temperatures killed many monarchs and the strong winds caused trees to topple over, losing monarch habitat.