Orthoptera conservation: pests and paradoxes
Orthoptera species and assemblages vary enormously in biology, abundance, population variability and geographic range. This means that some are major pests but others are threatened with extinction or are extinct through human agency. Most pest species are in the Acrididae, yet proportionately more threatened species are in the less speciose families. Pest Orthoptera species are unusual on islands, which nevertheless support several threatened non-acridid species. In contrast, continental species of Acrididae and Tettigoniidae are the ones principally threatened. Many of the threatened Orthoptera species are confined to a small geographical area and are highly threatened by anthropogenic impacts that coincide with their small ranges. Yet some formerly widespread pest taxa have become extinct. Genetic polymorphism to a solitary phase appears to be an extinction-avoidance mechanism. While ‘classically’ threatened point endemics can receive conservation action, not much can be done for the periodically at risk abundant species. Preservation of orthopteran biodiversity is a complex and paradoxical task.
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