Natural Disasters Can Deplete An Ecosystems Essential Native Insect Populations

Natural Disasters Can Deplete An Ecosystems Essential Native Insect Populations

When natural disasters occur, saving as many human lives as possible is naturally the primary concern. Unfortunately, large-scale natural disasters often result in numerous human fatalities. This seems to be an inevitable consequence. Although making an effort to save human lives during a natural disaster is of paramount importance, the impact that natural disasters have on insect life is rarely given a single thought. The amount of insects that are killed-off as a result of a natural disaster may not seem important, but insects are essential components of a healthy ecosystem. If natural disasters deplete certain insect populations, then serious environmental catastrophes can result. In one of the first studies of its kind, researchers have shed more light on how the loss of certain insect species effects an ecosystem following a large-scale natural disaster.

Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Cameron University have recently compared the amount of insect life that existed before and after a flood took hold of a region in Oklahoma. This particular disaster is unique in that the flood lasted for a full one hundred years. Obviously such a long lasting alteration in a region’s ecosystem will have a significant effect on the insect species that support it.

After the Oklahoma flood waters receded to normal levels, researchers recorded a ninety three percent decrease in the region’s species abundance. The researchers also determined that the insect presence in the affected region decreased by sixty percent after the flood. Nine months after the flood waters receded, researchers recorded a sixty four percent decrease in biomass among insects and other invertebrates in the affected region. Only insects that are capable of rapidly establishing colonies were able to survive the long-lasting flood conditions. Now that scientists know that climate change results in an increase in natural disasters, many researchers are interested in determining which insect species are most resilient to these disasters. By determining which insect species are able to survive natural disasters, researchers can better predict how disasters will alter ecosystems in the future.

Do you believe that referencing a one hundred year long flood will allow researchers to accurately predict which types of insect species will survive a typical hurricane lasting for a couple of weeks?


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