Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient insects preferred warmer climates

Date:
November 25, 2010
Source:
Ecological Society of America
Summary:
For millions of years, insects and plants have coevolved -- leaf-eaters adapting to the modifications of their hosts and plants changing to protect themselves from herbivory. The abundance and diversity of both insects and plants have varied depending on changes in climate. However, abnormally high global temperatures have historically lead to a greater diversity and abundance of insects, separate from plant diversity and adaptations.

For millions of years, insects and plants have coevolved -- leaf-eaters adapting to the modifications of their hosts and plants changing to protect themselves from herbivory. The abundance and diversity of both insects and plants have varied depending on changes in climate. However, according to a study published in the November issue of Ecological Monographs, a journal of the Ecological Society of America, abnormally high global temperatures have historically lead to a greater diversity and abundance of insects, separate from plant diversity and adaptations.

Ellen Currano formerly from Pennsylvania State University and colleagues examined a total of 9071 fossilized leaves at nine sites of the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming that had fossils dating back 52.7 to 59 million years ago. This particular location contains fossils created during a period when global temperatures gradually warmed to the greatest sustained highs of the last 65 million years. In addition to this gradual rise, there was also a temporary spike in temperature and partial pressure, similar to the weight, of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and a subsequent cooling period.

From the fossils during this six million year span, the researchers identified 107 plant species and recorded multiple types of insect feeding damage. They paid special attention to variations of insect feeding on one leaf, indicating the presence of multiple species of insects. By comparing these findings with the established temperature records, Currano and colleagues found that a rise in global temperature -- both gradual and abrupt -- led to an increase in insect populations. Surprisingly, the increase in insect diversity and abundance was not necessarily correlated with changes in plant diversity or abundance, suggesting that warmer temperatures directly affected insect numbers.

This relationship, said the authors, can be attributed to insect migration: As temperatures rose, insects could move northward and to previously uninhabitable altitudes. These climate shifts, then, may have also caused insect migration over higher latitude land bridges connecting North America, Europe and Asia.

"Our findings indicate possible changes to come as a result of anthropogenic climate change," said Currano. "As temperatures rose some 60 million years ago, tropical and subtropical insects were able to migrate northward to Wyoming. It is likely that present-day anthropogenic warming will lead to similar distributions of insect populations and cause an increase in herbivore damage."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ellen D. Currano, Conrad C. Labandeira, Peter Wilf. Fossil insect folivory tracks paleotemperature for six million years. Ecological Monographs, 2010; 80 (4): 547 DOI: 10.1890/09-2138.1

Cite This Page:

Ecological Society of America. "Ancient insects preferred warmer climates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123210447.htm>.
Ecological Society of America. (2010, November 25). Ancient insects preferred warmer climates. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123210447.htm
Ecological Society of America. "Ancient insects preferred warmer climates." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101123210447.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers

AP (Aug. 21, 2014) — California's record drought is hurting honey supplies and raising prices for consumers. The lack of rainfall means fewer crops and wildflowers that provide the nectar bees need to make honey. (Aug. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Thousands Of Species Found In Lake Under Antarctic Ice

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — A U.S. team found nearly 4,000 species in a subglacial lake that hasn't seen sunlight in millennia, showing life can thrive even under the ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) — Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) — Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins