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Pollinators like their flowers with a pinch of salt - Druckversion

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Pollinators like their flowers with a pinch of salt - kafa88 - 03-07-2022

[Bild: _20220301_on_pollinatorssalt_90846484.jpg]

When you're craving salt, you might grab a pickle from the fridge, or order chips from a drive-thru restaurant. For butterflies and bees, these are clearly not options. Instead, a new study finds that if given a choice, they look for plants with extra sodium in their nectar.

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Salt ions such as sodium help animals balance the amount of water in their cells and play an important role in muscle function. But plant-eating organisms struggle to get enough salt from their diets. "Herbivores have to get their salt from somewhere," said Nate Sanders, an ecologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and co-author of the study. "The same goes for things that fly around pollinating plants."

Bees prefer salty, "dirty" drinking water to fresh water, possibly because of its salt content. Some bees are known to scavenge sodium through blood, sweat, and tears. Sanders and his colleagues wanted to test whether pollinators also prefer salt from a more pleasant source: nectar.The team selected five flowering plants native to Vermont meadows, where the study took place. They grew flowers in the greenhouse, including yarrow and echinacea.