In this room on the other hand you will find all the different species of small fauna, all of which are considered excellent fliers. You will see infact some of the most significant and important species of butterflies in the Tuscan Archipelago, some Dragonflies, Wasps and Antlions, each with its own, unique biology.
The projector in the room lights up the ceiling and projects photographs of winged animals that come from the Tusan Archipelago on to the vault, and this makes the entire tour even more impressive.
In the corner on the left you can see a copy of a grotto and on the walls there are 4 different types of Bats that live in the Tusan Archipelago. Each has a QR code, and if you click on it with your smartphone you will hear the sound each bat makes.
Bats or chiropterans (that literally means: "winged hands") are nocturnal animals that are fully capable of seeing their way in the dark in a way that is commonly known as echolocation: they send out sound waves of the area they are flying in - that we humans are unable to hear - that are echoed back to the bats' large ears.
Over the years the different species of bats have adapted to their surrounding environments, be they grottos, woods or rural areas, so they have developed and perfected different hunting strategies depending on their habitat. Just one sound from them and an expert would immediately recognise not only what species is flying but also how it behaves if out in the open countryside or closed in a grotto or in thick woods.
34 different species of bats exist in Italy, and 7 of these have been found in grottos and caves in the Tuscan Archipelago.
There is a panel in the right hand corner that explains the importance of both the pollinators and the honeybees in a very clear and simple way. It is represented in a symbolic way with the use of two plates containing food, one "with" pollinators and one "without". Needless to say the presence of these precious insects allows us to lay the table with a lot of food while, should there be a shortage of these insects, or even none at all, this would mean that food biodiversity would be drastically reduced to some cereals and very few self-pollinating plants.
A world with no pollinators means a world with no fruit, vegetables, walnuts, hazel nuts, seeds that are often at the base of all those products that we eat every day like jam, yoghurt, ice-cream, cakes and many, many more
Between 75% and 95% of all the plants that have flowers on this earth need help to reproduce, that is, they need to be pollinated. And among these, almost a third depend on honeybees to pollinate them, but sad to say in the last decades the number of these insects has drastically come down to the point that they are slowly disappearing all over the world.
It's not the actual honey bees themselves that risk extinction, but rather, it's their capability of keeping up with the industry of commercial pollination and, as a result, a great deal of our food supplies are very much at risk.Over the years, many of the pollinators' habitats and the areas where they find their food have been lost. Pollution, excess use of pesticides, illnesses and climate change all contribute to reduce the number of pollinators and force them to live elsewhere.
We can only thank not only honey bees, but also birds, bats, butterflies, beetles and other small mammals for one in three foods that we eat every day, because they pollinate our plants as they fly from flower to flower and drink the nectar, leaving pollen on each and every one as they do so. Their financial value is vey high: pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the world economy and honey bees on their own are responsible for from 1,2 to 5,4 billion dollars of agricultural production in the United States. As well as "providing" the food we eat, pollinators add to a healthy ecosystem, they help to keep the air clean, they stabilize the ground, they protect us from bad weather and look after our wildlife.
If we wish a more sustainable agriculture, we have to start looking after both our protected areas as well as the local biodiversity, which means we must try to encourage the many different autochthonous plants and their natural pollinators; if we strive to become much more sensitive towards these tiny, but very important animals, we might really help the pollinators to find a way out of the crisis they are in.
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