The flowers have started to produce more pigments to protect themselves from UV rays. A phenomenon that is not visible to human eyes but affects pollination. Climate change forces migratory birds to change their routes, make rice and wheat less nutritious, push koalas to come down from eucalyptus plants to drink. So far few could imagine that they would even change the color of the flowers. This is the conclusion of research by the University of Clemson, South Carolina, published in the scientific journal Current biology.
Flowers adapt to the increase in UV rays. The researchers examined 1,200 specimens of plants that have been preserved over 75 years, between 1941 and 2017. The sample includes 42 different species collected in the United States, Australia and Europe. Using an ultraviolet-sensitive chamber, they were able to detect changes in flower pigments and found that the concentration of UV-absorbing pigments had increased steadily, maintaining an average of 2% per year over the entire period. What triggers this adaptive behavior, scientists explain, is the increase in temperatures and the drop in ozone concentrations. Both phenomena, in fact, result in increased exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. Plants need sunlight, but can be damaged when the radiation is too intense. The pigments of the petals in this sense act as a sunscreen, which absorbs the rays and prevents them from compromising the functionality of the pollen.
This phenomenon is not without consequences. Although imperceptible to the human eye, variations in pigments are a signal for pollinating animals. Bees and hummingbirds prefer flowers in which the tip of the petals reflect UV rays and, instead, the pigments that absorb them are concentrated towards the center, making the flowers less attractive to pollinators. (source: lifegate.it)
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