You are on page 1of 2

John-Paul Pendowski Period 1 The Flower and the Fly

I. II. III. IV. V.

Introduction Relationship between flower and fly Evolutionary development Problems regarding this relationship Conclusion

The meganosed fly (Moegistorhynchus longirostris), native to southern Africa, unsurprisingly possesses what its name presents: an incredibly long nose. The nose, or more accurately the proboscis, ranges anywhere from 4 to 6 inches above its head. This proboscis dangles between its legs as it flies and although it proves to be an evolutionary disadvantage to the fly, it actually is the flys most valuable asset. The flys long proboscis is especially useful when acquiring food, the nectar of characteristically long stemmed flowers. These flowers carry deep pools of nectar that the flies absolutely need in order to survive. The flies use their long proboscis to take up the nectar from the deep stems for food. Although this seems like a one way deal, the flowers benefit in relative fitness due to that the flies noses are not as long as the plant stems. Because of this, it is imperative that the flies push their bodies into the flower in order to reach the rich nectar within. This carries the perfect mode of exchange. The flies pick up large amounts of pollen on their hind legs and their bodies in their attempts of attaining the nectar. Thus, when the insects go off to receive more nectar from different long stemmed flowers, the pollen is allowed to transfer and gives the flowers a reproductive edge. This phenomenon, although not specifically regarding the meganosed fly and its plant guild, has been occurring even during the time of Charles Darwin who observed this behavior in longtongued hawk moth. These moths took the nectar out of long stemmed orchids and over time, developed longer proboscis in order to reach the deepening pools of nectar in each new generation of orchid. What these species experienced through years of relationship is ultimately a fate of coevolution. The two species have coevolved, each matching the others new addition and adaptation. Darwin noticed that the stems and the proboscis of these plants and insects respectively would grow complementary to the other until the risks of possessing such characteristics matched or outweighed the benefits. Indeed, the proboscis of the moth grew to past 9 inches over the years. Even now the flies experience this with their own proboscis.

Although the flowers and the flies rely on each other for nourishment, this relationship has led to different problems that were speculated long ago. Many of the insects or plants in the relationship began to overspecialize. A plant may only take to the pollinating of a certain insect and when that certain insect experiences a low point in population or, even worse, extinction, the plants only method of pollination is gone leaving the plant to its own devices to reproduce. The promiscuity of the flies in pollinating also leaves the flowers vulnerable to danger. The flies may help pollinate different species of flower, and when the pollen reaches the other, it will not work leaving the flower with nonmatching pollen. This relationship is testament to evolutionary adaptions and coevolution. The plants and the flies develop complementary to each other, understanding that the welfare of one affects the welfare of the other.