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Review: Effects of Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Insect-Plant Interactions

Carlos E. Coviella and John T. Trumble
Conservation Biology
Vol. 13, No. 4 (Aug., 1999), pp. 700-712
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2641685
Page Count: 13
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Review: Effects of Elevated Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide on Insect-Plant Interactions
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Abstract

In the enriched carbon dioxide atmosphere expected in the next century, many species of herbivorous insects will confront less nutritious host plants that will induce both lengthened larval developmental times and greater mortality. The limited data currently available suggest that the effect of increased atmospheric CO2 on herbivory will be not only highly species-specific but also specific to each insect-plant system. Several scenarios can be predicted, however: (1) local extinctions will occur; (2) the endangered species status as well as the pest status of some insect species will change; (3) geographic distributions for some insect species will shift with host-plant ranges; and (4) changes in the population dynamics of affected insect species will influence their interactions with other insects and plants. For insect conservation purposes, it is critical to begin long-term studies on the effects of enhanced CO2 levels on insect populations. An analysis of the available literature indicates that many orders containing insect species important for ecosystem conservation, and even those important as agricultural or medical pests, have not been examined. Without a major increase in research on this topic, we will be unprepared for the species changes that will occur, we will lose the opportunity to document just how some insects adapt to elevated CO2 levels, and we will lack the information necessary for effective conservation efforts.

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