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Tropical insects 'go the distance' to inform rainforest conservation
Date:8/13/2007

t change with distance as long as the environment is stable, Cognato said. Even communities hundreds of miles apart are the same. And if there are differences, they seem to be random and not caused by any environmental change.

Study findings were similar for the butterfly and fruit fly species examined in the study.

Such knowledge is critical to understanding the roles of ecological processes in maintaining tropical diversity, predicting species extinction and designing the systems of protected natural areas, Hulcr said. Because diversity doesnt necessarily increase with distance, but animals in small reserves

tend to go extinct, you should plan for one large area instead of having a lot of small and distant areas to manage and conserve.

Cognato and Hulcr expect similar patterns in other tropical lowland rain forests, as they are typically situated in the extensive low basins of major rivers comparable to the study area in New Guinea. They are currently conducting research in other areas of the tropics including Borneo, Ecuador, Guyana, Ghana and Thailand to confirm the New Guinea findings.

If we want the stability of these forests, especially given how much they are threatened now, we need to understand how to best set up conservation areas, said Cognato said. And its not just about the flashy species; its about the whole thing.

Hulcr agrees.

This and additional research will allow conservation managers and policy makers to base decisions on data rather than on theory so that we can preserve as much diversity as possible, Hulcr said. We are excited to be part of the ongoing, international effort to add to the extensive data necessary for the understanding, analysis and conservation of complex tropical forest ecosystems.


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Contact: Jiri Hulcr
hulcr@msu.edu
517-432-2373
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert

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