Insects and Sustainability of Ecosystem Services  book cover
1st Edition

Insects and Sustainability of Ecosystem Services

ISBN 9781466553903
Published May 23, 2013 by CRC Press
396 Pages - 61 Color & 86 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

With few exceptions, insects are perceived in industrialized countries as undesirable pests. In reality, relatively few insects interfere with us or our resources. Most have benign or positive effects on ecosystem services, and many represent useful resources in non-industrialized countries. Challenging traditional perceptions of the value of insects, Insects and Sustainability of Ecosystem Services explores the ways insects affect the ecosystem services we depend upon. It also fosters an appreciation for the amazing diversity, adaptive ability, and natural roles of insects.

The book discusses how the ways in which we manage insects will determine an ecosystem’s capacity to continue to supply services. It reviews aspects of insect physiology, behavior, and ecology that affect their interactions with other ecosystem components and ecosystem services, emphasizing critical effects of insects on the sustainability of ecosystem processes and services. The author examines the integration of insect ecology with self-regulatory aspects of ecosystems that control primary production, energy and nutrient fluxes, and global climate—functions that underlie the sustainability of ecosystem services.

Clearly, we need environmental policies that meet needs for pest control where warranted, but do not undermine the important contributions of insects to sustaining ecosystem processes and services. With in-depth coverage of the multiple, often compensatory, effects of insects on various resources or ecosystem services and on the consequences of control tactics for those resources or services, Insects and Sustainability of Ecosystem Services recommends changes in perspectives and policies regarding insects that will contribute to sustainability of ecosystem services.

Table of Contents

Ecosystem Services
Ecosystem Characteristics
Insects and Insect Control
Scope of This Book

Humans versus Insects: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Honey Bees (the "Good")
Other Insects Used as Food or Cosmetics
Medical Uses
Industrial Uses
Cultural Icons
Indicators of Environmental Change
Nuisances (the "Bad")
Venomous Insects and Other Arthropods
Vectors of Human and Livestock Diseases
Crop Pests
Instruments of Warfare (the "Ugly")

Insect Responses to Environmental Changes
Adaptive Attributes
Environmental Variation
Insect Responses
Rate of Adaptation by Insects

Changes in Insect Abundance and Distribution
Population Fluctuation through Time
Factors Affecting Population Size
Regulation of Population Size
Population Fluctuation in Space

How Do Ecosystems Provide Services?
Ecosystem Structure and Function
Interactions among Species
Climate Control
Regulation of Ecosystem Conditions
Ecosystem Development
Differences among Ecosystems
Predicting Change

Effects of Anthropogenic Changes and Management
How Humans Affect Ecosystems
Insecticide Effects
Alternative Control Options

Effects of Insects on Ecosystem Services
Effects on Provisioning Services
Effects on Cultural Services
Effects on Supporting Services
Effects on Regulating Services

Valuation of Insect and Management Effects
Valuation of Insect Effects on Provisioning Services
Valuation of Insect Effects on Cultural Services
Valuation of Insect Effects on Supporting Services
Valuation of Insect Effects on Regulating Services
Valuation of Insect Management Strategies

Conclusions and Recommendations
Why New Pest Management Approaches Are Needed
Management Goals
Deciding When to Control
Greater Emphasis on Ecological Principles
Use of a Broader Range of Tactics
Suitability and Availability
Implementation of Integrated Pest Management Strategy
Integrated Pest Management: A Case Study
Urban Responsibilities
Concluding Comments

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Timothy D. Schowalter is Professor or Entomology at the Entomology Department at LSU, College of Agriculture.

Featured Author Profiles

Author - Timothy  Schowalter

Timothy Schowalter

Professor and Head, Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, LA, 70803

Learn more about Timothy Schowalter »


"As the most diverse taxon on earth, insects have complex roles in ecosystems and hence affect provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services and supporting services provided by ecosystems. This new synthesis enhances our understanding of the important functional roles of insects in ecosystem services, which will help us manage our natural resources in a better way to reach the goal of sustainability."
—Jung-Tai Chao, Taiwan Forestry Research Institute

"… the chapters of Schowalter's interesting new book range from insect ecology to the valuation and management of their benefits. … an important source for everybody interested in sustainable management of insects driving ecosystem functioning."
—Teja Tscharntke, Georg-August-University

"Dr. Schowalter brings forth many important topics within this realm as he ultimately leads the reader to a strong understanding of the important interplay between humans, insects, and the shaping of environments throughout the world. … well written and designed to allow the reader to quickly grasp and understand even the most difficult concepts. I have little doubt that this will become a "must have" reference for anyone interested insects and their role in the sustainability of ecosystem services."
—Mathew A. Camper Affiliation: Instructor/Entomologist Colorado State University