08 September, 2023

Online images for braod-scale fly-floral interactions and biodiversity

 by Blakeman et al.


Flies, belonging to the Order Diptera and recognized by their two wings, play a vital role as pollinators, yet their interactions with flowers are not as well understood compared to bees and other more frequently studied pollinators. To bridge this knowledge gap, we compiled a dataset of 1,275 images of fly-flower interactions, contributed by photographers worldwide through internet repositories. From each image, taxonomic details were extracted for both flies and flowers, along with information about flower characteristics (color, shape) and fly activities (foraging, pollen carrying). While the resulting dataset does exhibit taxonomic and other biases, it nonetheless offers an initial panoramic view of the factors influencing pollination by Diptera. We identified 22 families of flies, with blow flies (Family Calliphoridae) and hover flies (Family Syrphidae) being the most abundant, and 63 families of flowers, with sunflowers (Family Asteraceae) and flowers in the carrot / celery family (Family Apiaceae) being the most abundant. Notably, our study found that fly behavior, such as pollen carrying and foraging, is influenced by flower color and shape. We found flies were more likely to be pollen carrying on elongate cluster flowers that were yellow and foraging on yellow and white flowers. Although some biases exist in the citizen science data, our findings shed light on pollinator-flower relationships and demonstrate the value of citizen science in documenting fly pollination amidst global insect declines.

Read the scientific publication in JPE!

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