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      Using field-based entomological research to promote awareness about forest ecosystem conservation

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      Nature Conservation

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Interactions between plants, insect herbivores and associated predators represent the majority of terrestrial biodiversity. Insects are vital food sources for many other organisms and provide important ecosystem functions and services including pollination, waste removal and biological control. We propose a complete and reproducible education programme to guide students to understand the importance of managing and conserving forest ecosystems in their region through the study of insect ecology and natural history. Our programme involved lectures, workshops and field surveys of insects with a group of 60 high school students in Eastern Africa (Ethiopia). It addresses the key stages of an entomological research project including: 1) general entomological knowledge and understanding the role of insects in terrestrial diversity and in ecosystem functioning and services; (2) the proposal of simple research questions including hypothesis development and evaluation using scientific literature, 3) fieldwork using different types of light traps; 4) sorting and identification of the insect orders using simple diagnostic keys and illustrated plates; 5) analysing and interpreting the results and 6) demonstrating findings to peers and a public audience. Identifying insects, exploring their natural history and understanding their functions in the field bring the students towards a better understanding and awareness of the importance of forest ecosystem conservation.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Host specificity of insect herbivores in tropical forests.

          Studies of host specificity in tropical insect herbivores are evolving from a focus on insect distribution data obtained by canopy fogging and other mass collecting methods, to a focus on obtaining data on insect rearing and experimentally verified feeding patterns. We review this transition and identify persisting methodological problems. Replicated quantitative surveys of plant-herbivore food webs, based on sampling efforts of an order of magnitude greater than is customary at present, may be cost-effectively achieved by small research teams supported by local assistants. Survey designs that separate historical and ecological determinants of host specificity by studying herbivores feeding on the same plant species exposed to different environmental or experimental conditions are rare. Further, we advocate the use of host-specificity measures based on plant phylogeny. Existing data suggest that a minority of species in herbivore communities feed on a single plant species when alternative congeneric hosts are available. Thus, host plant range limits tend to coincide with those of plant genera, rather than species or suprageneric taxa. Host specificity among tropical herbivore guilds decreases in the sequence: granivores > leaf-miners > fructivore > leaf-chewers = sap-suckers > xylophages > root-feeders, thus paralleling patterns observed in temperate forests. Differences in host specificity between temperate and tropical forests are difficult to assess since data on tropical herbivores originate from recent field studies, whereas their temperate counterparts derive from regional host species lists, assembled over many years. No major increase in host specificity from temperate to tropical communities is evident. This conclusion, together with the recent downward revisions of extremely high estimates of tropical species richness, suggest that tropical ecosystems may not be as biodiverse as previously thought.
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            Resource-driven terrestrial interaction webs

             Peter Price (2002)
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              Ninety-seven million years of angiosperm-insect association: paleobiological insights into the meaning of coevolution.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Conservation
                NC
                Pensoft Publishers
                1314-3301
                1314-6947
                September 18 2018
                September 18 2018
                : 29
                : 39-56
                Article
                10.3897/natureconservation.29.26876
                © 2018

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