Program Chair: Rory McDonnell and Véronique Martel
Insects are the most diverse and abundant group of animals on the planet and play critical roles in the functioning of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. However, land use change, introduced species, climate change, pollution, and loss of habitat have resulted in significant declines in many parts of the world. In this session, we will examine some of the world’s endangered insect species, their ecology, threats to their existence, and measures being taken to help conserve them.
Insect extinctions and solutions across the world
Biodiversity is eroding at an increasing pace, with current species extinction rates being orders of magnitude higher than background rates. Insects have seen a recent increase of interest in their fate, often making headlines, as recent research suggested alarming rates of species extinctions and population reductions across the world. The causes for such are however less clear. From habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation, use of polluting and harmful substances, the spread of invasive species, global climate change, direct overexploitation, and co-extinction of species dependent on other species, the relative importance of each threat is taxon- and context-dependent.
In this talk I will review what is known about insect species extinctions on a global scale, and how much still must be done to cover our knowledge gaps. New methods are being tried to fill such gaps, from fieldwork and literature extraction, to novel analytical methods robust to large amounts of missing data. Likewise, there has been a recent increase in the number of projects tackling the causes for species losses, most often relying on different partners outside academia. Zoos and aquaria, NGOs, and the unsuspected citizen scientist, all contribute to the protection of species in different settings and according to their ability. These developments give us hope, yet the question persists if we can keep up with the increasing pace of biodiversity loss.
Dr. Pedro Cardoso
Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki
I am curator at the Finnish Museum of Natural History Luomus and adjunct professor in Ecology at the University of Helsinki. While heading the Laboratory for Integrative Biodiversity Research (LIBRe), I am currently mostly interested in understanding global drivers of extinction and the distribution of species and communities across space and time. To reach such goals I am also developing new statistical and computational tools to quantify extinction risk and biodiversity at all levels: taxonomic, phylogenetic, and functional.
Protected areas and insect conservation
Despite being the most speciose class of animals, strategies for insect conservation remain underdeveloped compared to those for vertebrates and plants. Recent studies have documented dramatic declines in insect diversity and abundance, mostly due to anthropogenic threats. Halting and reversing these declines should be a global conservation priority. For many species, protected areas have now become the last refuge from human-induced threats; however, the potential for protected areas to contribute to global insect conservation remains poorly documented. Here, my presentation will be three-fold. First, I will talk about the current knowledge of insects in protected areas. Second, I will share PA performance in a tropical megapopulated country, the status of global insect species in PAs, and how PA coverage varies for migratory butterflies. Finally, I will discuss the potential of protected areas in conserving insect species and ways that policymakers can follow to meet the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework targets.
Dr. Shawan Chowdhury
German Centre for Integrative Biodiverstiy Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Shawan Chowdhury is a Postdoctoral Research Associate with Professor Aletta Bonn at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) in Leipzig, Germany. Here, Shawan is combining and analysing the German biodiversity data to identify the changes in the state of biodiversity in Germany.
In May 2022, Shawan completed my PhD from the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland. As a part of his doctoral research, Shawan worked on insect migration and conservation with Professor Richard Fuller and Professor Myron Zalucki. Before arriving in Australia, Shawan completed my BSc and MSc from the Department of Zoology, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
If you are interested in learning more about Shawan’s work, please visit his personal website: https://shawanchowdhury.wordpress.com/.
The charismatic praying mantid: A gateway for insect conservation
Praying mantids (Mantodea) are not only apex predators with a ‘mystical’ status, but are also regarded as a kind of oracle and, in some cultures, as omens associated with good or bad. In the future, the cultural, mystical and religious values allocated to mantids over millennia can contribute not only to their own conservation, but also to conservation of arthropods in general. Historically, Mantodea influenced African, Greek, Egyptian, Japanese and Chinese cultures and they affected human culture in a variety of ways. Some of these are coin designs, hairstyles, swords, death rituals, war strategies, advertisements, children’s books and even modern music. Despite human fascination with mantids, this group of arthropods is unfortunately overlooked in terms of conservation and research. Conservation as a mitigation strategy to protect threatened and endangered species is influenced by philosophical and psychological aspects and requires more than a purely scientific approach. In this presentation the role of praying mantids in human culture and the historical relationships between humans and other arthropods are highlighted. Acknowledgement of these cultural aspects of the mantids may contribute to a positive change in people’s perceptions of arthropods and eventually in insect conservation. It is suggested that mantids could be used as a flagship or gateway species to advance awareness of insect conservation. We can generate much needed insect appreciation by building on the existing ‘global’ cultural values, fascination and intrigue of the charismatic mantid, therefore increasing wonderment of the small things that dominate the world we live in.
Dr. Bianca Greyvenstein
Unit for Environmental Science and Management, North-West University
Potchefstroom, South Africa
Dr. Bianca Greyvenstein did her undergraduate and post graduate studies at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa. During her post graduate studies in predatory insect diversity in agro-ecosystems, she discovered her current research interest which is praying mantids. In 2020, she received her doctorate degree which was about the distribution and biology of South African Mantodea fauna. Bianca is currently a Post-Doctoral candidate at the NWU where her research still focuses mainly on Mantodea, but also on biodiversity and ecology of insects within natural and agro-ecosystems. She also teaches undergraduate zoology students, a post graduate module and supervises MSc and Honors students.