Insects have become more pests than before according to this new study
There are countless varieties of plants and insects on Earth. They need each other to survive. That is why they are in constant interaction. However, scientists from the University of Wyoming have conducted a new study which has found that although the number of insects has gone down, they have caused unprecedented damage to plants.
This research is the first of its kind. It offers a comparison of the ravages that herbivorous insects inflict on plants in the modern era with those of fossilized leaves dating from the Late Cretaceous.
A striking difference between damage in contemporary plants and the fossil record
The researchers assessed fossilized leaves from three different present-day woods and those from the late Cretaceous to Pleistocene, around 2 million years. After a thorough analysis, they discovered a lot of damage that the insects caused. The results showed that the damage in contemporary plants was much more meaningful compared to those identified in the fossilized leaves.
According to lead researcher Lauren Azevedo-Schmidt, who holds a doctorate from the University of Wyoming, the study provided insight into the impact of the interaction between insects and plants. There is no denying that insects have wreaked havoc on plants despite their decline. However, the difference in the ravages between modern times and the fossil record is surprising.
The exact origin of this increase in damage has not yet been identified.
Global warming, urbanization and the introduction of invasive species have probably contributed to the increase in damage caused by insects. According to the researchers, human activities that impinge on all ecosystems have resulted in the frequency and diversity of such damage in modern forests.
Plants from the early 2000s were therefore more vulnerable to insects compared to specimens collected in the early 1900s. global warming. However, this does not fully explain this phenomenon. Further research is needed to learn more about the main causes and potential impacts of this damage.