Challenges in Insect Conservation: Managing Fluctuating Populations In Disturbed Habitats

  • Cheryl B. Schultz
  • Gary C. Chang


The vast majority of the world’s species are insects (at least 80%; Mawdsley and Stork 1995). Their importance is overwhelming by almost any measure. For example, insects and other arthropods contribute substantially to standing biomass; 1,000 kg/ha is an estimate for the United States (Pimentel et al. 1980). In most terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems they play critical roles as prey, predators, herbivores and pollinators (Free 1970; Debach and Rosen 1991; Kellert 1993; Lloyd and Barrett 1996). Indeed, in one of the first issues of the Society for Conservation Biology’s journal, E.O. Wilson (1987) called insects “the little things that run the world.” Because they comprise the majority of the earth’s biodiversity, insects should be considered pivotal in conservation efforts (Kim 1993). Unfortunately, an alarmingly small percent of our conservation literature focusses on insect issues. For example, in 1993, 1994 and 1995, the journals Ecological Applications, Conservation Biology, and Biological Conservation published 1,070 articles with only 62 related to insect issues and still fewer related to conservation of declining insect populations. Thus, only 6% of our conservation literature is aimed at 80% of our planet’s biodiversity. This neglect of insect conservation cannot be justified on the basis of insects not being endangered. In Britain where the biodiversity is relatively well-documented, approximately 22,500 insect species occur; 43 insects are believed to have gone extinct between 1900 and 1987 (Hambler and Speight 1996). The number of insect species believed extinct in Britain is over eight times that of number of extinct vertebrates, and over three times that of flowering plants (Hambler and Speight 1996).


Natural Enemy Conservation Biology Biological Conservation Classical Biological Control Reserve Design 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cheryl B. Schultz
  • Gary C. Chang

There are no affiliations available

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