A l'UM la science [S03-ep14] : The drone and thought

This week in A l'UM la science, Samson Acoca-Pidolle and Pierre-Olivier Cheptou from Cefe talk about the worrying adaptation of certain plants to the collapse of pollinating insects. Géraldine Comps from MGEN, the Faculty of Education's partner in "Les mercredis du savoir", presents a conference on teenagers' mental health. A program broadcast every Wednesday at 6pm on Divergence FM 93.9.

"If the bee disappeared from the face of the earth, man would have only four years left" , meaning 4 years of existence. You're probably familiar with this prophecy attributed - rightly or wrongly - to Albert Einstein. For my part, I remember hearing it as a teenager and wondering whether living species, whether animal or plant, should always be considered from the point of view of the services they provide. Isn't the disappearance of bees a catastrophe in itself? Does it have to lead to the disappearance of mankind to be worthy of our interest? And if so, how many species disappear into oblivion because they are useless to us? 

Pushing a little further, my little teenage head finally forged another thought: and if we humans were to become extinct, what other species would we take down with us?

That said... Bees haven't totally disappeared yet, even if their population, like that of all insects in general, is in massive decline, not to say collapse. This decline has not gone unnoticed in the plant kingdom, and certain plants, forsaken by their intriguing winged friends, have had to develop alternatives to continue reproducing. Is this good news? Not really. We talk about it with our guests.

Samson Acoca-Pidolle is a PhD student at UM and Cefe, the Center for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, working on a thesis on rapid adaptations in plants. He is first author of this publication. His thesis supervisor is our second guest, Pierre-Olivier Cheptou, CNRS research director at Cefe. They co-authored a study published in the journal New Phytologist in which they focused on a flower, the field pansy. They found that, in just three decades, the plant had adapted to the scarcity of bumblebees by increasing its self-fertilization rate by 27% and "spending less" to attract pollinators: less nectar production and smaller, less visible corollas.

Our guest for the last 3 minutes will be Géraldine Comps, who works for MGEN and is organizing, in partnership with the Faculty of Education (FDE), a conference on adolescent mental health. It takes place on January 24 at 5pm at the FDE, and is part of the "Mercredis du savoir" program.

At UM la science you've got the program, here we go!

Coproduction: Divergence FM / Université de Montpellier
Lucie Lecherbonnier
Aline Périault / Lucie Lecherbonnier
Production : Alice Rollet / Tom Chevalier

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