Ecological restoration of mining sites will not be successful long-term unless more attention is paid to returning the pollinators on which plants depend for reproduction and genetic viability.
Some of the world's leading scientists, including from The University of Western Australia and Kings Park and Botanic Garden (KPBG), urge the reconnection of plants and pollinators in an opinion piece published in internationally acclaimed journal, Trends in Plant Science.
With 90 per cent of plant species around the world dependent on insect, mammal or bird pollinators, they point out that in biodiversity hotspots such as the southwest of Western Australia, the need to reinstate pollinators to achieve plant reproduction has been overlooked in ecosystem restoration.
Permanent UWA Visiting Professor and Director of science at KPBG, Professor Kingsley Dixon, is a co-author of the article - the issue's cover feature - while UWA PhD candidate Myles Menz and UWA adjunct lecturer Ryan Phillips are the lead authors.
Coloured images on the cover depict plants' and pollinators' different levels of specialisation, including iris flowers in South Africa pollinated exclusively by a long-proboscid fly; and a Western Australian hammer orchid evolved to mimic the sight and smell of a female wasp to attract its male wasp pollinator.
"In human-modified landscapes, habitat degradation, loss and fragmentation can cause declines in plant and/or pollinator populations, potentially leading to pollination limitation," the authors argue.
"Given the importance of pollination and its sensitivity to human disturbance, it is surprising how little focus has been placed on restoration of animal-mediated pollination in natural habitats."
The authors, including scientists from universities in Australia, the United States, Argentina and South Africa, suggest restoration ecologists work with pollination biologists to achieve the best outcomes for ecosystems.
Professor Kingsley Dixon (Permanent Visiting Professor, (+61 8) 9480 3614
UWA School of Plant Biology)
Myles Menz (PhD candidate, UWA School of Plant Biology) (+61 8) 9480 3920
Janine MacDonald (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 5563 / (+61 4) 32 637 716