Over 7000 types of plant species depend on hummingbirds for survival. Hummingbirds pollinate and help propagate the succession of many plants in the South American and North American region. Without hummingbirds, various food crops would also diminish over time - such as apples.
Hummingbirds are much more than friendly visitors to your backyard garden. While they may be small, their powerful pollinating abilities are essential to plant life in North America and across the globe. Without Hummingbirds pollinating plants, the flowering annuals at your local nursery will become a thing of the past.
Hummingbirds help propagate the plant life of native plants and sometimes do it even better than the humble honeybee! Since different species of Hummingbirds have a propensity for particular flowers, some species of Hummingbirds are vital to a struggling plant’s survival. If you have ever wondered economic impact of Hummingbirds and what the world would look like if they suddenly disappeared, keep reading!
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Influence of Sub-Tropical Plant Life by Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds are essential to the propagation of most of the plant life in South America. As most Hummingbirds dwell, eat, and nest in southern countries, the ecology and evolution of the plant life continue to flourish and thrive. Just like the honey bee is an essential component of the ecology and the economy of the world, Hummingbirds play just an active role in the economy of South America.
The Plant-Life Economy In South America
Colombia, a South American country, is one of the biggest flower exporters in the world. Native plants in South America, such as cacti, bromeliads, and orchids, are some of the most famous exports in South America. With over 200 species of Hummingbirds in South America, they remain one of South America’s biggest pollinators.
The Giant Hummingbird (almost as large as a Northern Cardinal) lives in the Andes and pollinates many of the region’s lush, tropical plants. Just like the honeybee, the ecosystems of these pollinators are subject to destruction due to climate change, poor adaptations to urbanization, limited floral nectar resources, and an increased energy intake.
Without the help of popular avian pollinators, the native plant life that remains a vital export of these South American countries lies in jeopardy. Like a stack of dominos, if one facet of the local ecosystem suffers, the entire ecosystem suffers and has lasting implications on the local and global economy. So, what local plant species depend on Hummingbirds?
Plant Species That Depend On Hummingbirds
More than 7000 plant species depend on hummingbirds for their pollination and propagation. Since Hummingbirds are primarily attracted to the color red, they are drawn to popular nursery genera of flowering and tubular plants such as Salvia, Justicia, Cuphea, Mimulus, Erythythrina, Fuschia, Lobelia, and Russelia (as well we many other). Without these Hummingbird-pollinated plants, the colorful selections at your local nursery in North America would be sparse.
Much like the beloved honeybee, Hummingbirds are ferocious little pollinators. Their high metabolisms require quite a bit of floral nectar. On average, one Hummingbird visits between 1,000 and 2,000 flowers per day. With its rich plant-life economy in South America, these avian pollinators serve a vital role. If you have ever headed to your local nursery to pick up a few colorful annuals to plant in your garden this summer, you may not realize that many of these plant species are native to areas where Hummingbirds thrive.
What Would Happen If There Were No Hummingbirds?
While it may sound bleak, there are severe economic, health, and ecological impacts if all of the Hummingbirds on earth went away. Pollinators such as Hummingbirds play a surprisingly significant role not only in the global economy but also in our health as well. In contrast, tropical Hummingbirds play a considerable role in exotic plants, North America Hummingbirds like the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) and Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna) help to pollinate crops of fruits and vegetables.
Without hummingbirds, the food we eat and the flowers we enjoy would fall in short supply. At the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers determined that if all pollinators (like the Hummingbird) went extinct, the global mortality rate would climb due to diseases caused by poor nutrition.
What Is The Economic Value Of Hummingbirds?
Hummingbirds are serious pollinators and have lasting and pervasive economic impacts that you may have never considered. Sure, they bright delight and a flash of color around your bird-feeders, but they also play a massive role in the biodiversity of local and economic ecosystems from New York down to Mexico.
It may be challenging to understand the economic value of Hummingbirds because they don’t necessarily produce a product we consume in the same way as chickens, honeybees, or other livestock. You purchase a chicken, that chicken makes eggs, and you sell the egg for profit. With Hummingbirds, things get a little murkier.
Hummingbirds are attracted to flowering plants as their primary food source, but that doesn’t just mean decorative plants. The apple orchards that produce juicy apples? Their springtime blossoms are pollinated by Hummingbirds. The blooming flowers in your garden? Also pollinated by a Hummingbird. The native plants found in local nurseries in South America are also pollinated by Hummingbirds. Without nectar availability, these migrant Hummingbirds won’t have the fuel they need to pollinate, and as Hummingbird populations diminish, so so the thriving plant economy.
How Does The Economic Value Of Birds Compare To The Monetary Value Of Other Animals?
As time passes, the population of birds worldwide is on a steady decline. While you may look around and see plenty of birds in your backyard and garden, many struggle to adapt to the ever-changing environments. As the populations of birds decline, the world starts to look bleaker, both economically and ecologically.
Birds are not only avid pollinators that fuel the biodiversity of plant life that we use for food and landscaping, but they also help to propagate seeds of native plants much more than any other animal. However, pesticides, habitat loss due to urbanization, and fragmentation destroy thriving bird habitats, and some (even in recent memory) have suffered extinction. These avian creatures play an essential role in the biodiversity and coevolution of plant life across the globe. Without birds, the plant life on planet Earth dramatically suffers.