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      Insects as food and feed in the Asia Pacific region: current perspectives and future directions

      1, 2

      Journal of Insects as Food and Feed

      Wageningen Academic Publishers

      Asia Pacific, entomophagy, sustainable harvesting

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          Western cultures currently struggle to have insects accepted as a human food. This barrier is not as high in many parts of the Asia Pacific region because entomophagy is (or was until recent times) a part of their accepted diets. The region is comprised of many different cultural groups and the degree to which they embraced entomophagy has been determined by dietary needs, cultural considerations, and the availability of insects. While entomophagy has decreased in westernised societies, the demand for edible insects has increased in parts of Asia in association with rising standards of living. An assessment of the use of insects as food and feed in the Asia Pacific region is provided and important knowledge gaps are identified. Edible insects are sourced by three main strategies: wild harvesting, semi-domestication of insects in the wild, and farming. Semi-domestication and farming have the potential to provide a more sustainable food supply, but globally 92% of species are wild harvested. The harvested insects come from all trophic levels, although most of the terrestrial edible insect species are herbivores and most species of edible aquatic species are predators. The increased demand for edible insects puts pressure on the source populations because new technologies are now used to harvest insects more efficiently and to store them safely for longer periods, facilitating the harvesting of greater amounts of insects. This, in combination with either loss of natural habitats or changes to the environment, puts even more pressure on insect populations. The over harvesting of edible insects from different trophic levels could have long term adverse implications for ecosystem processes in Asia Pacific and other regions.

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          Most cited references 175

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          Over the past decade, accelerating rates of species extinction have prompted an increasing number of studies to reduce species diversity experimentally and examine how this alters the efficiency by which communities capture resources and convert those into biomass. So far, the generality of patterns and processes observed in individual studies have been the subjects of considerable debate. Here we present a formal meta-analysis of studies that have experimentally manipulated species diversity to examine how it affects the functioning of numerous trophic groups in multiple types of ecosystem. We show that the average effect of decreasing species richness is to decrease the abundance or biomass of the focal trophic group, leading to less complete depletion of resources used by that group. At the same time, analyses reveal that the standing stock of, and resource depletion by, the most species-rich polyculture tends to be no different from that of the single most productive species used in an experiment. Of the known mechanisms that might explain these trends, results are most consistent with what is called the 'sampling effect', which occurs when diverse communities are more likely to contain and become dominated by the most productive species. Whether this mechanism is widespread in natural communities is currently controversial. Patterns we report are remarkably consistent for four different trophic groups (producers, herbivores, detritivores and predators) and two major ecosystem types (aquatic and terrestrial). Collectively, our analyses suggest that the average species loss does indeed affect the functioning of a wide variety of organisms and ecosystems, but the magnitude of these effects is ultimately determined by the identity of species that are going extinct.
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            The narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world's food supplies has been considered a potential threat to food security. However, changes in this diversity have not been quantified globally. We assess trends over the past 50 y in the richness, abundance, and composition of crop species in national food supplies worldwide. Over this period, national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat, and weight, with increased proportions of those quantities sourcing from energy-dense foods. At the same time the number of measured crop commodities contributing to national food supplies increased, the relative contribution of these commodities within these supplies became more even, and the dominance of the most significant commodities decreased. As a consequence, national food supplies worldwide became more similar in composition, correlated particularly with an increased supply of a number of globally important cereal and oil crops, and a decline of other cereal, oil, and starchy root species. The increase in homogeneity worldwide portends the establishment of a global standard food supply, which is relatively species-rich in regard to measured crops at the national level, but species-poor globally. These changes in food supplies heighten interdependence among countries in regard to availability and access to these food sources and the genetic resources supporting their production, and give further urgency to nutrition development priorities aimed at bolstering food security.
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              Predator diversity dampens trophic cascades.

               L Finke,  R Denno (2004)
              Food web complexity is thought to weaken the strength of terrestrial trophic cascades in which strong impacts of natural enemies on herbivores cascade to influence primary production indirectly. Predator diversity can enhance food web complexity because predators may feed on each other and on shared prey. In such cases, theory suggests that the impact of predation on herbivores relaxes and cascading effects on basal resources are dampened. Despite this view, no empirical studies have explicitly investigated the role of predator diversity in mediating primary productivity in a natural terrestrial system. Here we compare, in a coastal marsh community, impacts of arthropod predators on herbivores and plant productivity between a simple food web with a single predator species and a complex food web with a diverse predator assemblage. We show that enhancing predator diversity dampens enemy effects on herbivores and weakens trophic cascades. Consequently, changes in diversity at higher trophic levels can significantly alter ecosystem function in natural systems.

                Author and article information

                Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
                Wageningen Academic Publishers
                1 January 2015
                11 February 2015
                : 1
                : 1 ( otherID: J18731N34765 )
                : 33-55
                [ 1 ] Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, Biosciences Research Division, AgriBio, 5 Ring Road, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia
                [ 2 ] School of Applied Systems Biology, AgriBio, La Trobe University, 5 Ring Road, Bundoora, Victoria 3083, Australia



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