Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 258–282 | Cite as

Insects in biodiversity conservation: some perspectives and directives

  • Michael J. Samways

The Insecta is the most speciose class in the Animal Kingdom. The insect-plant relationship is the dominant biotic interaction, yet plants have many times the biomass of all animals together. The functional significance of insects is enormous, owing to the large numbers of individuals and great intra-and interspecific variety. Lack of human appreciation of importance, coupled with the general disregard and dislike of insects, is an enormous perception impediment to their conservation. This impediment coupled with the taxonomic impediment (at most only about 7–10% of insects are scientifically described) must be overcome for realistic biodiversity conservation. As it is not possible to know all the species relative to the rate at which they are becoming extinet, it is essential to conserve as many biotopes and landscapes as possible. These would be for typical species and communities, as well as for endemic sinks. It is also essential to preserve speciesdynamo areas as an insurance for future biodiversity. Preserved areas must also be linked by movement and gene-flow corridors as much as possible. Recognition, functional importance, taxic uniqueness, typicalness, genetic variation and important behavioural traits place much more emphasis on qualitative biodiversity conservation than on quantitative approaches. Ecological entomologists play a significant double role, suppressing noxious populations on crops, livestock and other products, while at the same time identifying and using beneficial species. There are well-known inherent and environmental risks with many traditional control methods and high risks with the use of genetically engineered biopesticide baculoviruses. Preservation technologies, where individuals are held in suspended animation, must be developed soon. However, such technologies, as with restoration activities such as site restoration, captive breeding, reintroductions and translocations, all require considerable knowledge and economic iput to be predictably successful. Ecological restoration involves so many biotic and abiotic interactions in even the simplest of communities, that predictiveness under all potential conditions is virtually unattainable. Instead, there should be strong focus on the preservation and conservation of as many, and as large as possible, pristine and near-pristine unique and typical landscapes as soon as possible.


insects perspectives directives 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ackery, P.R. and Vane-Wright, R.I. (1984) Milkweed Butterflies. London: Natural History Museum.Google Scholar
  2. Altmann, M. (1992) An evolutionary basis for conservation strategies. Science 253, 750–2.Google Scholar
  3. Arnett, R.H. (1983) Status of the taxonomy of insects of America north of Mexico: a preliminary report prepared for the subcommittee for the insect fauna of North America project (privately printed). Quoted by Simberloff, D. (1986) Introduced insects: a biogeographic and systematic perspective. In Ecology of Biological Invasions of North America and Hawaii (H.A. Mooney and J.A. Drake, eds) pp. 3–26 New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  4. Baum, D. (1992) Phylogenetic species concepts. TREE 7, 1–2.Google Scholar
  5. Borror, D.J. and White, R.E. (1970) A Field Guide to the Insects of America north of Mexico, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  6. Brakefield, P.M. (1991) Genetics and the conservation of invertebrates. In The Scientific Management of Temperate Communities for Conservation (I.F., Spellerberg, F.B., Goldsmith and M.G., Morris, eds) pp. 45–79. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  7. Briggs, J.C. (1991) Global species diversity. J. Nat. Hist. 25, 1403–6.Google Scholar
  8. BrownJr, K.S. (1991) Conservation of neotropical environments: insects as indicators. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 349–404. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, V.K. and Southwood, T.R.E. (1983) Trophic diversity, niche breadth and generation times of exopterygote insects in a secondary succession. Oecologia 56, 220–5.Google Scholar
  10. Budgen, M.B. (1949) Episodes of Insect Life. London: Reeve, Benham and Reeve.Google Scholar
  11. Caltagirone, L.E. (1981) Landmark examples in classical biological control. Ann. Rev. Ent. 26, 213–32.Google Scholar
  12. ChapinIII, F.S., Chulze, E.-D. and Mooney, H.A. (1992) Biodiversity and ecosystem processes. TREE 7, 107–8.Google Scholar
  13. Clark, T.E. and Samways, M.J. (1993) Ecological landscaping for conservation of macroarthropod diversity in a southern hemisphere (South African) botanic garden. In Habitat Creation and Wildlife Conservation in Post-industrial and Urban habitats (J., Rieley and S., Page, eds). UK: Packard (in press).Google Scholar
  14. Collins, N.M. and Morris, M.G. (1985) Threatened Swallowtail Butterflies of the World. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservatinn of Nature and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
  15. Considine, D.M. and Considine, G.D., eds (1980) Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopaedia, 7th ed. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  16. Darlington, P.J. (1965) Biogeography of the Southern End of the World, Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Dempster, J.P. (1975) Animal Population Ecology. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  18. Dover (1991) Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 293–318. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  19. Duffey, E. (1977) The re-establishment of the Large Copper butterfly Lycaena dispar batava Obth. on Woodwalton Fen National Nature Reserve, Cambridge, England, 1969–1973. Biol. Conserv. 12, 143–58.Google Scholar
  20. Durrell, L. (1986) State of the Ark. London: The Bodley Head.Google Scholar
  21. Eardley, C.D. (1989) Diversity and endemism of southern African bees. Plant Protect. News, No. 18, 1–2.Google Scholar
  22. Ehrlich, P.R. and Murphy, D.D. (1987) Conservation lessons from long-term studies of checkerspot butterflies. Conserv. Biol. 1, 122–31.Google Scholar
  23. Erwin, T.L. (1988) The tropical forest canopy: the heart of biotic diversity. In Biodiversity (E.O., Wilson, ed.); pp. 123–9, Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  24. Erwin, T.L. (1991) An evolutionary basis for conservation strategies. Science 253, 750–2.Google Scholar
  25. Fry, R. and Lonsdale, D. eds (1991) Habitat Conservation for Insects—a neglected Green Issue. Middlesex: The Amateur Entomologists'Society.Google Scholar
  26. Gandar, M.V. (1982) The dynamics and trophic ecology of grasshoppers (Acridoidea) in a South African savanna. Oecologia (Berlin) 54, 370–8.Google Scholar
  27. Gaston, K.J. (1991) The magnitude of global insect species richness. Conserv. Biol. 5, 283–96.Google Scholar
  28. Gaston, K.J. (1992) Regional numbers of insect and plant species. Function. Ecol. 6, 243–7.Google Scholar
  29. Gibbs Russell, G.E. (1985) Analysis of the size and composition of the southern Africa flora. Bothalia 15, 613–29.Google Scholar
  30. Gilpin, M.E. (1987) Experimental community assembly: competition, community structure and the order of species introductions. In Restoration Ecology: a Synthetic Approach to Ecological Research (W.R., JordanIII, M.E., Gilpin and J.D., Aber, eds) pp. 151–161 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Grassle, J.F. and Maciolek, N.J. (1992) Deep-sea species richness: regional and local diversity estimates from quantitative bottom samples. Amer. Nat. 139, 313–41.Google Scholar
  32. Greenslade, P. and New, T.R. (1991) Australia: conservation of a continental insect fauna. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 11–34. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  33. Greenwood, S.R. (1987) The role of insects in tropical forest food webs. Ambio 16, 267–70.Google Scholar
  34. Hagen, K.S. and Franz, J.M. (1973) A history of biological control. In History of Entomology (R.F., Smith, T.E., Mittler and C.N., Smith, eds) pp. 433–476. Palo Alto, CA: Annual Reviews.Google Scholar
  35. Hammond, P.M. (1992) Species inventory. In Global Biodiversity. Status of the Earth's Living Resources (B., Groombridge, ed.) pp. 17–39. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  36. Harris, L.D. (1984) The Fragmented Forest. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  37. Harris, L.K. and Gallagher, R.B. (1989) New initiatives for wildlife conservation: the need for movement corridors. In Preserving Communities and Corridors (G., Mackintosh, ed.) pp. 11–34. Washington DC: Defenders of Wildlife.Google Scholar
  38. Hattingh, V. and Samways, M.J. (1991) Determination of the most effective method for field establishment of biocontrol agents of the genus Chilocorus (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae). Bull. Ent. Res. 81, 169–74.Google Scholar
  39. Hill, L. and Michaelis, F.B. (1988) Conservation of Insects and Related Wildlife. Rep. Austr. Nat. Parks Wildlife Serv., Occasional paper No. 13, 1–40.Google Scholar
  40. Hochberg, M.E. and Waage, J.K. (1991) Control engineering. Nature 352, 16–7.Google Scholar
  41. Hodkinson, I.D. and Casson, D. (1991) A lesser predilection for bugs: Hemioptera (Insecta) diversity in tropical rain forests. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 43, 101–9.Google Scholar
  42. Houck, M.A., Clark, J.B., Peterson, K.R. and Kidwell, M.G. (1991) Possible horizontal transfer of Drosophila genes by the mite Proctolaelaps regalis. Science 253, 1125–9.Google Scholar
  43. Howarth, F.G. (1991) Environmental impacts of classical biological control. Ann. Rev. Ent. 36, 485–509.Google Scholar
  44. Howarth, F.G. and Ramsay, G.W. (1991) The conservation of island insects and their habitats. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 71–119. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  45. IUCN (1991) Caring for the Earth: a strategy for sustainable Living. Gland, Switzerland: IUCN/UNEP/WWF.Google Scholar
  46. Janzen, D.H. (1988) Tropical dry forests: the most endangered major tropical ecosystem. In Biodiversity (E.O., Wilson, ed.) pp. 130–137. Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  47. Johnsen, P. (1987) The status of the South African Acridoidea s.1. (Orthoptera: Caelifera). In Evolutionary Biology of Orthopteroid Insects (B.M., Baccetti, ed.) pp. 293–5, Chichester: Ellis Horwood.Google Scholar
  48. JordanIII, W.R. (1988) Ecological restoration: reflections on a half-century of experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. In Biodiveristy (E.O., Wilson, ed.) pp. 311–6. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  49. Keddy, P.A. (1989) Competition. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  50. Laurance, W.F. (1991) Edge effects in tropical forest fragments: application of a model for the design of nature reserves. Biol. Conserv. 57, 205–19.Google Scholar
  51. Lees, D. (1989) Practical considerations and techniques in the captive breeding of insects for conservation purposes. Entomologist 108, 77–96.Google Scholar
  52. Lockwood, J.A. (1987) The moral standing of insects and the ethics of extinction. Fla. Entomol. 70, 70–89.Google Scholar
  53. Lockwood, J.A. and De, Brey, L.D. (1990) A solution for the sudden and unexplained extinction of the Rocky Mountain Grasshopper (Orthopetera: Acrididae). Environ. Entomol. 19, 1194–205.Google Scholar
  54. Macarthur, W.P. (1927) Old time typhus in Britain. Trans. R. Soc. Trop. Med. Hyg., 20, 487–503.Google Scholar
  55. May, R.M. (1989) How many species?. In The Fragile Environment (L., Friday and R., Laskey, eds) pp. 61–81. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  56. May, R.M. (1990) How many species? Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 330, 293–304.Google Scholar
  57. May, R.M. (1992) Bottoms up for the oceans. Nature 357, 278–9.Google Scholar
  58. McCoy, E.D. and Bell, S.S. (1991) Habitat structure: The evolution and diversification of a complex topic. In Habitat Structure: the Physical Arrangement of Objects in Space (S.S., Bell, E.D., McCoy and H.R., Mushinsky, eds) pp. 3–27. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  59. Mckibben, B. (1990) The End of Nature. London: Viking.Google Scholar
  60. Miller, J.C. (1993) Insect natural history, multi-species interactions Biodiv. Conserv. 2, 233–41.Google Scholar
  61. Morris, M.G. and Rispin, W.E. (1987) Abundance and diversity of the coleopterous fauna of a calcareous grassland under different cutting régimes. J. Appl. Ecol. 24, 451–65.Google Scholar
  62. Morris, M.G. (1990) The Hemiptera of two sown calcareous grasslands. II. Differences between treatments. J. Appl. Ecol. 27, 379–93.Google Scholar
  63. Morris, M.G., Collins, N.M., Vane-Wright, R.I. and Waage, J. (1991) The Utilization of nondomesticated insects. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 319–347. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  64. New, T.R. (1984) Insect Conservation — an Australian Perspective. Dordrecht: Junk.Google Scholar
  65. New, T.R. and Collins, N.M. (1991) Swallowtail Butterflies: an Action Plan for their Conservation. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Google Scholar
  66. Nixon, K.C. and Wheeler, Q.D. (1992) Measures of Phylogenetic diversity. In Evolution and Phylogeny (M.J., Novacek and Q.D., Wheeler, eds). New York: Columbia University Press (in press).Google Scholar
  67. Parsons, P.A. (1989) Conservation and global warming: a problem in biological adaptation to stress. Ambio 18, 322–325.Google Scholar
  68. Pearson, D.L. and Cassola, F. (1991). Worldwide species richness patterns of tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae): indicator taxon for biodiversity and conservation studies. Conserv. Biol. 6, 376–91.Google Scholar
  69. Pimental, D., Culliney, T.W., Buttler, I.W., Reinemann, D.J. and Beckman, K.B. (1989) Low-input sustainable agriculture using ecological management practices. Agri. Ecosyst. Environ. 27, 3–24.Google Scholar
  70. Platnick, N.I. (1991) Patterns of biodiversity: tropical vs temperate. J. Nat. Hist. 25, 1083–8.Google Scholar
  71. Powell, J.A. (1992) Interrelationships of yuccas and yucca moths. TREE 7, 10–15.Google Scholar
  72. Prinsloo, G.L. (1989) Insect identification services in South Africa. In Proceedings of the Seventh Entomological Congress organized by the Entomological Society of southern Africa, Pietermaritzburg, 10–13 July, 1989, pp. 107. Entomological Society of southern Africa: Pretoria.Google Scholar
  73. Pyle, R., Bentzien, M. and Opler, P. (1981) Insect Conservation. Ann. Rev. Entomol. 26, 233–58.Google Scholar
  74. Ragge, D.R. (1974) Class Insecta, Order Orthoptera: Tettigonioidea. In Taxonomy of the Hexapoda (W.G.H., Coaton, ed.) pp. 37–8. Pretoria: Department of Agriculture of the Union of South Africa.Google Scholar
  75. RolstonIII, H. (1988) Environmental Ethics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  76. Samways, M.J. (1979) Immigration, population growth and mortality of insects and mites on cassava in Brazil. Bull. Entomol. Res. 69, 491–505.Google Scholar
  77. Samways, M.J. (1979) Immigration, population growth and mortality of insects and mites on cassava in Brazil. Bull. Entomol. Res. 69, 491–505.Google Scholar
  78. Samways, M.J. (1983) Inter-relationship between an entomogenous fungus and two anthomopteran (Hymenoptera: Formicidae-Hemiptera : Pseudococcidae and Aphididae) mutualisms on guava trees. Bull. Ent. Res. 73, 321–31.Google Scholar
  79. Samways, M.J. (1988a) A pictorial model of the impact of natural enemies on the population growth rate of the scale insect Aonidiella aurantii. S. Afr. J. Sci. 84, 270–2.Google Scholar
  80. Samways, M.J. (1988b) Classical biological control and insect conservation: are they compatible? Environ. Conserv. 15, 347–54.Google Scholar
  81. Samways, M.J. (1989a) Insect conservation and the disturbance landscape. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 27, 183–94.Google Scholar
  82. Samways, M.J. (1989b) Insect conservation and landscape ecology: a case-history of bush crickets (Tettigoniidae) in southern France. Environ. Conserv. 16, 217–26.Google Scholar
  83. Samways, M.H. (1990) Species temporal variability: epigacic ant assemblages and management for abundance and scarcity. Oecologia 84, 482–90.Google Scholar
  84. Samways, M.J. (1992a) Some comparative insect conservation issues of north temperate, tropical and south temperate landscapes. Agr. Ecosyst. Environ. 40, 137–54.Google Scholar
  85. Samways, M.J. (1992b) Dragonfly conservation in South Africa: a biogeographical perspective. Odonatologica 21, 165–80.Google Scholar
  86. Samways, M.J. (1993) Insect Conservation Biology, London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  87. Shirt, D.B., ed. (1987) British Red Data Books: 2. Insects. Peterborough: Nature Conservancy Council.Google Scholar
  88. Soulé, M.E. (1989) Conservation biology in the twenty-first century: summary and outlook. In Conservation for the Twenty-first Century (D., Western and M.C., Pearl, eds) pp. 297–323. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  89. Stevens, G.C. (1989) The latitudinal gradient in geographical range: how so many species co-exist in the tropics. Amer. Nat. 133, 240–56.Google Scholar
  90. Stork, N.E. (1988) Insect diversity: facts, fiction and speculation. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 35, 321–37.Google Scholar
  91. Stork, N.E. (1993) How many species are there? Biodiv. Conserv. 2, 215–32.Google Scholar
  92. Thomas, J.A. (1983) The ecology and conservation of Lysandra bellargus in Britain. J. Appl. Ecol. 20, 59–83.Google Scholar
  93. Thomas, J.A. (1989) Ecological lessons from the re-introduction of Lepidoptera. Entomologist 108, 56–68.Google Scholar
  94. Thomas, J.A. (1991) Rare species conservation: case studies of European butterflies. In The Scientific Management of Temperate Communities for Conservation (I.F., Spellerberg, F.B., Goldsmith and M.G., Moris, eds) pp. 169–197. Oxford: Blackwell Scientific Publications.Google Scholar
  95. Tarrill, W.B. (1948) British Plant Life. London: Collins.Google Scholar
  96. Usher, N.B. (1986) Wildlife conservation evaluation: attributes, criteria and values. In Wildlife Conservation Evaluation (M.B., Usher, ed.) pp. 3–44. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  97. Usher, M.B. and Jefferson, R.G. (1991) Creating new and successional habitats for arthropods. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 263–91. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  98. Vane-Wright, R.I., Humphries, C.J. and Williams, P.H. (1991) What to protect? — Systematics and the agony of choice. Biol. Conserv. 55, 235–54.Google Scholar
  99. Warren, M.S. and Key, R.S. (1991) Woodlands: past, present and potential for insects. In The Conservation of Insects and their Habitats (N.M., Collins and J.A., Thomas, eds) pp. 155–211. London: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  100. World Conservation Monitoring Centre (1992) Global Biodiversity 1992: Status of the Earth's Living Resources. Gland, Switzerland: World Conservation Union.Google Scholar
  101. Webb, W.R. (1989) Studies on the invertebrate fauna of fragmented heathland in Dorset, UK, and the implications for conservation. Biol. Conserv. 47, 153–65.Google Scholar
  102. Wheeler, Q.D. (1990) Insect diversity and cladistic constraints. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Amer. 83, 1031–47.Google Scholar
  103. Whittaker, R.H. (1975) Communities and Ecosystems, 2nd Ed. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  104. Williams, P.H., Humphries, C.J. and Vane-Wright, R.I. (1991) Measuring biodiversity: taxonomic relatedness for conservation priorities. Aust. Syst. Bot. 4, 665–79.Google Scholar
  105. Wilson, E.O., ed. (1988) Biodiversity. Washington DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  106. Wilson, E.O. (1991) Ants. Wings 16, 3–13.Google Scholar
  107. Wolda, H. (1992) Trends in abundance of tropical forest insects. Oecologia 89, 47–52.Google Scholar
  108. Wood, P.A. and Samways, M.J. (1991) Landscape element pattern and continuity of butterfly flight paths in an ecologically landscaped botanic garden, Natal, South Africa. Biol. Conserv. 58, 149–66.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Samways
    • 1
  1. 1.Invertebrate Conservation Research Centre, Department of Zoology and EntomologyUniversity of NatalPietermaritzburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations