Saturday, 11 February 2017

Drones and natural selection

I came across this post looking at a new microdrone capable of collecting pollen. This is proposed as a possible solution to the problems arising from the collapse of so many bee colonies. Colony Collapse Disorder has the potential to wipe out agriculture worldwide when we have nothing to pollenate crops.

It is an interesting solution from the technical side, but one that got me thinking on natural selection. Examples of plants that had developed particlar shapes or colours over millions of years so that specialist animals or insects were the only ones to unlock the pollen or nectar. In a horrible future where we had no bees and 'busy as a drone bee' was a common phrase, I could not think of any reason why natural selection might not also adapt plants to drones. Those that drones can pollenate easily are the first to thrive and those characteristics improve with each generation. Special petal arrangements to avoid damage from mini rotors, growing in wind-sheltered spots to help accurate IMU aided hovering. Avoiding GPS obscured regions near trees. No plants pollenated in aviation authority no-fly zones? Instead of reflecting particular patterns in the UV for an insects eyes, changing to reflect more strongly in other parts of the spectrum so the pollen is visible to a low grade multispectral camera.

The list goes on.

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About Me

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My name is Conor. I am a Lecturer at the Department of Geography at Maynooth University. These few lines will (hopefully) chart my progress through academia and the world of research.