Rain forests are the lungs of the earth, everyone is aware of their need to be conserved. The last of Earth’s living natural heritage seem to have unlikely champion amongst insects.
A new study suggests that plant-eating insects in tropical forests feast on a broader menu of foliage and can be consistently found across hundreds of miles of tropical forestland. These findings have significant implications related to the sustainability and conservation of these tropical rainforests. This challenges the long held belief that plant-eating insects in tropical forests are picky eaters that stay “close to home” dining only on locale-specific vegetation.
The study suggests suggest that since diversity doesn’t necessarily increase with distance, but animals in small reserves tend to go extinct, it would be better to plan for one large area instead of having a lot of small and distant areas to manage and conserve. Necessitating the preservation of larger areas of rain forests to be kept pristine and intact.
Michigan State University scientist Anthony Cognato and graduate student Jiri Hulcr were part of an international team that conducted this groundbreaking research. The study included approximately 500 species of caterpillars, beetles and fruit flies from common plant-eating families and 175 species from four diverse plant groups across 28,950 square miles of contiguous lowland rain forest in Paupua, New Guinea. They are currently conducting research in other areas of the tropics like Borneo, Ecuador, Guyana, Ghana and Thailand to confirm the New Guinea finding.
Every year about 20 million hectares of rainforest are destroyed worldwide. They are logged for timber and cleared to plant crops and graze cattle. More reason to support rainforest conservation in every way possible. If insects can give us the lead why not follow them in earnest.
Source: Biology News Net