The need of a pollen database to help on the identification of plant species used in the bees’ diet was the trigger to begin the construction of RCPol (Online Pollen Catalogues Network). Conceived in 2009 and created in 2013 RCPol’s main objective is to promote interaction between researchers and the integration of data from their pollen collections, herbaria and bee collections.
To facilitate the search of information about species of Angiosperms (plants with flowers and seeds), its flowers, its pollen and the interaction between these plants and bees is RCPol’s coordinators and collaborators intent.
Our website brings information about palynology and trophic interaction between plants and bees. Soon it will be released the interactive species identification key that is being developed in collaboration with Escola Politécnica of USP (Universidade de São Paulo). The database used in the interactive species identification key is being created in collaboration with researchers of several Brazilian Institutions.
Our interactive species identification key will make possible to identify plant species through the morphological description of its flowers and pollen grains. Pollen has been used by taxonomists to group or to separate species in phylogenetic studies.
In the beginning our only focus was the identification of plant species used in the bees’ diet, but over time our focus extended to other areas of the palynology such as:
- Palynotaxonomy, the study of pollen morphological characteristics that can be used to identify kinship and origin of several taxonomic groups;
- Copropalynology, the study of pollen found in animal faeces allowing to gather data about feeding habits;
- Forensic palynology, through the identification of pollen grains in clothing, objects, nasal cavity, etc, making it possible to solve crimes;
- Geopalynology and Paleopalynology, the study of pollen deposited in soil layers that allow the description of oil regions and the reconstruction of ancient vegetation. The last one is very important to the understanding of the origin and establishment of the current vegetation;
- Melissopalynology, through the identification of pollen grains in bee products it is possible to determine the region and floral sources to the studies of product quality and bee ecology;
- Palynoecology, the study of pollen dispersion. This kind of study has been fundamental to the interpretation of interaction networks between plants and floral visitors and/or pollinators, also about the trophic interaction between bees and plants used in the diet of adults and immatures. The data gathered in Palynoecology studies has supported the creation of management and conservation plans for bees and visited and/or pollinated plant species.
With the widespread use of pollen as a natural marker and given the small number of researchers working in the area of Palynology and the small representation of species in the few Pollen Collections in Brazil and in the world in relation to existing botanical diversity, RCPol emerges as a form of stimulus for the expansion of Palinology and the integration of Pollen Collections.