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      Environmental manipulation for edible insect procurement: a historical perspective

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          Abstract

          Throughout history humans have manipulated their natural environment for an increased predictability and availability of plant and animal resources. Research on prehistoric diets increasingly includes small game, but edible insects receive minimal attention. Using the anthropological and archaeological literature we show and hypothesize about the existence of such environmental manipulations related to the procurement of edible insects. As examples we use eggs of aquatic Hemiptera in Mexico which are semi-cultivated by water management and by providing egg laying sites; palm weevil larvae in the Amazon Basin, tropical Africa, and New Guinea of which the collection is facilitated by manipulating host tree distribution and abundance and which are semi-cultivated by deliberately cutting palm trees at a chosen time at a chosen location; and arboreal, foliage consuming caterpillars in sub-Saharan Africa for which the collection is facilitated by manipulating host tree distribution and abundance, shifting cultivation, fire regimes, host tree preservation, and manually introducing caterpillars to a designated area. These manipulations improve insect exploitation by increasing their predictability and availability, and most likely have an ancient origin.

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          Most cited references22

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          An Exploration on Greenhouse Gas and Ammonia Production by Insect Species Suitable for Animal or Human Consumption

          Background Greenhouse gas (GHG) production, as a cause of climate change, is considered as one of the biggest problems society is currently facing. The livestock sector is one of the large contributors of anthropogenic GHG emissions. Also, large amounts of ammonia (NH3), leading to soil nitrification and acidification, are produced by livestock. Therefore other sources of animal protein, like edible insects, are currently being considered. Methodology/Principal Findings An experiment was conducted to quantify production of carbon dioxide (CO2) and average daily gain (ADG) as a measure of feed conversion efficiency, and to quantify the production of the greenhouse gases methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) as well as NH3 by five insect species of which the first three are considered edible: Tenebrio molitor, Acheta domesticus, Locusta migratoria, Pachnoda marginata, and Blaptica dubia. Large differences were found among the species regarding their production of CO2 and GHGs. The insects in this study had a higher relative growth rate and emitted comparable or lower amounts of GHG than described in literature for pigs and much lower amounts of GHG than cattle. The same was true for CO2 production per kg of metabolic weight and per kg of mass gain. Furthermore, also the production of NH3 by insects was lower than for conventional livestock. Conclusions/Significance This study therefore indicates that insects could serve as a more environmentally friendly alternative for the production of animal protein with respect to GHG and NH3 emissions. The results of this study can be used as basic information to compare the production of insects with conventional livestock by means of a life cycle analysis.
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            Human Territoriality: An Ecological Reassessment

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              Insects as food: why the western attitude is important.

              The traditional use of insects as food continues to be widespread in tropical and subtropical countries and to provide significant nutritional, economic and ecological benefits for rural communities. Westerners should become more aware of the fact that their bias against insects as food has an adverse impact, resulting in a gradual reduction in the use of insects without replacement of lost nutrition and other benefits.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Ethnobiol Ethnomed
                Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
                BioMed Central
                1746-4269
                2012
                21 January 2012
                : 8
                : 3
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Laboratory of Entomology, Department of Plant Sciences, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 1, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
                Article
                1746-4269-8-3
                10.1186/1746-4269-8-3
                3275449
                22264307
                6b986a88-9489-493d-a732-227626eadd20
                Copyright ©2012 Van Itterbeeck and van Huis; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 28 September 2011
                : 21 January 2012
                Categories
                Review

                Health & Social care
                palm weevil,ahuauhtle,palm larvae,edible insect,environmental manipulation,facilitation,entomophagy,semi-cultivation,caterpillar,aquatic insect egg

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