As a child, I would often ask my mom why things in nature are the way they are and she would always give me the same answer: to provide an overarching balance to the world. Although this answer seemed overly simplistic to me even as a kid, I have come to realize over the years that there was great wisdom in my mother’s response.
As a lover of biology, the vast diversity of life on earth and the almost perfect homeostasis with which these various life forms interact with one another continues to amaze me. Therefore, when I read about a recent research study led by a team at the University of California at Irvine that described how insect eating animals have been found to reduce the effects of global warming by removing the threat of harmful plant eating insects, I was once again reminded of my mom’s wise words.
“Our efforts solidify the importance of birds, bats, lizards and other similar animals to ecosystem health, and underscores the importance of conserving these species in the face of global change,” said Kailen Mooney, an assistant professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC-Irvine. The main importance of this finding is the fact that it comes at a time when many leading ecologists have begun casting doubt on the role birds and other insect eaters have as plant protectors.
After carefully researching the many complex feeding patterns of these various plant eaters, however, Mooney and the rest of her team were able to once again bring into light and reconfirm the extremely important role of these omnivores in safeguarding the livelihood of plants. “Our study provides the most comprehensive support of this hypothesis to date. It shows that despite feeding on predatory insects, birds, bats and lizards still act as plant protectors by having net negative effects on plant-feeding insects,” Mooney added.
Discussion Question: Do you think that there are negative side effects to the removal of plant eating insects that were ignored by the research team? What might some of these effects be?
News Article: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100407134819.htm
Scientific Article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1001934107
No comments yet.
You must be logged in to post a comment.