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The incredible diversity of invertebrates

Terrestrial insects literally run the world. Learn about their diversity, roles in the ecosystem, threats they face, and actions that are required to

Terrestrial vertebrates get the lion’s share of media attention, research, funding and legislate protection, yet they represent just a small fraction of the overall species richness of terrestrial fauna.

In this video Dr Kit Prendergast will cover the sheer number of species that terrestrial insects represent, how many are described, and how many we estimate we still have yet to discover.

Terrestrial insects are also diverse in the roles they play in ecosystems – they serve as pollinators, prey, predators, biocontrol agents, vectors of disease, seed-dispersal agents, agents of bioturbation and soil formation, and decomposition.

But how are insects faring? I’m sure we’ve all heard of “the insect apocalypse” making headlines.

Well the truth is, there are very few ongoing monitoring projects, especially in Australia.

What we do know is the correlates of what result in decreases in insect abundance and species richness, which, given their pervasive nature, mean that insects are not doing well.

Another issue is that we haven’t adequately described and categorised this diversity. Taxonomists are just as rare as some of the insects they study!

If we are to know how insects are doing, we need to use the right methods to monitor them. Tragically, some research has been using poor methods that can lead to erroneous conclusions.

As we know what threatens insects, we can therefore act to address these threats. These can involve actions for improving habitat and reducing habitat loss across landscapes, to addressing global threats like climate change.

This article is from the free online

Life on Land: Ecology, Evolution, Challenges, and Solutions

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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