Understanding the drivers of the high diversity in tropical forests has been a major question since Darwin and Wallace visited tropical forestsand even before, Smithsonian co-author Scott Miller writes, We found that higher tropical tree diversity explains why there are more leaf-eating insects in tropical than in temperate forests.
It may be obvious that forests with greater numbers of tree species should support a wider variety of leaf-eating insects than do less diverse forests, but no one had ever done the experiment to rule out the major alternative explanation: that insect species in the tropics eat the leaves of a smaller number of host trees (are more host specific), which would also result in more insect species in a given area. This study presents the best experimental evidence to date to account for the latitudinal gradient in herbivorous insect biodiversity.
The international effort involved a comparison of insectsTM eating habits in temperate sites in Central Europe and lowland tropical sites near Mandang, Papau New Guinea (PNG). The team of insect ecologists, taxonomists and field assistants led by Vojtech Novotny, from the University of South Bohemia, Czech Republic, includes co-authors from the SmithsonianTMs National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), National Zoological Park (NZP) and Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the University of Minnesota in the U.S. and Comenius University in Slovakia.
The team compared 850 species of leaf-eating insects from 14 tree species in temperate floodplain forest sites in Moravia and from 14 tree species in lowland tropical sites in Papua New Guinea (PNG). They also compared caterpillars from 8 trees in Slovakia, and 8 trees in PNG. Tree species were chosen such that they would have the same evolutionary relationships at each site, making the comparisons equivalent and eliminating another confounding factor.
After collecting the insects, researchers ran feeding trials by presenting larval and adult insects with foliage. They gathered and analyzed a total of 26,970 feeding observations.
Based on this latitudinal comparison they concluded that individual temperate and tropical tree species support similar numbers of leaf-eating insects. Host specificity did not differ significantly between temperate and tropical communities therefore, the greater number of tree species in the tropics is the best explanation for higher insect diversity.
Only 2 million of the estimated 5-10 million insect species on this planet have been identified. Nearly nothing is known about the behavior or environmental impact of most insect species. The conclusion that tree diversity drives insect diversity is a great step forward in the understanding of life on earth.
Scott Miller | EurekAlert!
When corals eat plastics
24.05.2018 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences