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The Neglect of Parasitic Hymenoptera in Insect Conservation Strategies: The British Fauna as a Prime Example

Abstract

Parasitic Hymenoptera, the major group of insects having the parasitoid life style, are extremely species rich and of wide significance in terrestrial ecosystems. Although the nature of their role with respect to species richness and stability in their host communities is unclear, the evidence that parasitoids can have a profound impact on host populations is incontestable. Because parasitic Hymenoptera are typically very specialised and occupy a high trophic level, species in this group are likely to be particularly vulnerable to local or even global extinction. That their particular conservation needs and extinction risks are rarely considered stems largely from our ignorance of them, both taxonomically and biologically. In Britain, parasitic Hymenoptera comprise about 25% (or perhaps significantly more) of the total insect fauna. The view is advanced that neglect consequent on the continuing poor knowledge of parasitic Hymenoptera in such an otherwise well-studied fauna is a serious conservation problem, undermining the rationality of various current conservation initiatives and analyses. Recommendations to redress this are made.

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Shaw, M.R., Hochberg, M.E. The Neglect of Parasitic Hymenoptera in Insect Conservation Strategies: The British Fauna as a Prime Example. Journal of Insect Conservation 5, 253–263 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1013393229923

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  • British fauna
  • conservation strategy
  • ecological roles
  • parasitic Hymenoptera
  • threats