Friday, November 25, 2016

Pollination Power by Heather Angel

The problems plaguing honeybees recently have created fears of widespread crop failure for lack of pollination. Without diminishing the concern about honeybees, Angel's book shows that a lot more creatures are involved in pollination and that flowers and their pollinators have evolved together into the immense diversity we see today. In addition to many different species of bees, flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, birds, lizards, bats, rodents, and marsupials pollinate certain flowers. And Angel has photographed all of them at their work all over the world.

She also shows how flowers' shapes, colors, and ultraviolet markings interact with pollinators. Did you know that some flowers must be buzz-pollinated? A bumblebee will vibrate fiercely and shake the pollen down onto its body. And honeybees don't know this trick. The book concludes with speculation on the future of flowers. A plant may be affected by habitat loss or changes in the time of flowering as the planet warms, especially if it has a specialized pollinator. The trend toward creating hybrid flowers that are showy can leave them incapable of sustaining pollinators.

Heather Angel has long been known for her nature photography and Pollination Power shows why. This coffee table size book is filled with large, detailed photos in intense colors. Note that she lives in the UK and occasionally uses terms that differ from what Americans expect, for example, bird ringer rather than bird bander. The other book by Heather Angel in the VBPL collection, How to Photograph Water, will inspire amateur photographers. More books with beautiful pictures of insects include Dragonflies by Pieter van Dokkum and Butterflies by Dick Vane-Wright. In Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, the Backbone of Life, Susan Middleton takes a different approach by photographing her subjects apart from their environment.

Review by Carolyn Caywood, retired from VBPL

No comments: