September Speaker: Robert Pemberton, topic “Biotic resource needs of orchid pollinators”
Dr. Bob Pemberton is a retired research entomologist formerly with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. As a foreign explorer, he traveled the world searching for the natural enemies of invasive plants and insects that were devastating natural environments. He began studying orchids and their pollinators when an orchid bee from Central America appeared on his front porch in Fort Lauderdale. Bob has studied the pollination ecology of species of Cyrtopodium in Florida, Cypripedium in Sichuan, China and Phragmipedium in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Joanne and dog.
Dr. Pemberton’s talk is on “Biotic resource needs of orchid pollinators.”
Orchid pollinators can have highly varied life histories with complex biotic resource requirements, about which we have limited knowledge. Because thousands of orchid species offer no rewards, their pollinators must obtain pollen and nectar from other plants. Many moth and butterfly pollinators require essential larval host plants. Some orchid pollinators are insect predators and parasitoids with specific prey types such as aphids and even subterranean scarab larvae. Orchid bees, the only pollinators of about 700 neotropical orchids, must have particular plant chemicals for their reproduction. Loss of critical biotic resources can cause the loss of orchid pollinators or reduce their abundance and effectiveness.