Economic assessment of ecological services reveals reliance on natures bounty
Although the economic importance of insects in providing honey and silk is well known, many other valuable services provided by insects are commonly overlooked. In the April 2006 issue of BioScience, the monthly journal of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, John E. Losey of Cornell University and Mace Vaughan of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation estimate the value (as indicated by documented financial transactions) of some less well-known services provided by insects. Understanding such services is important because evidence points to a steady decline in beneficial insect populations.
The articles assessment is restricted to just four services--dung burial, control of crop pests, pollination, and wildlife nutrition--because data are not available to allow a more comprehensive assessment. Moreover, Losey and Vaughan excluded the value of services provided by domesticated insects, mass-reared biological control agents, and commercially raised insects. The authors estimate the annual value of the ecological services that they considered to be at least $57 billion in the United States.
Donna Royston | EurekAlert!
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