Ento-musings from the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Climate Science and Entomology

by Blake Newton, UK Extension Entomologist

With the recent controversy involving hacked emails and scientific conspiracies, climate science is getting even more attention than usual. This reminded me that, over the last decade or so, entomologists have played a small roll in gathering some of the data related to climate-change. In fact, one of our own scientists at the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology, Dr. Janet Lensing, conducted research in this area about 5 years ago. She examined the impact of drought conditions on a forest-floor ecosystem (an insect-and-spider-heavy environment). Here is an article from the NY Times in 2006, summerizing her results:

And here is another article that summarizes climate/insect research from Penn State University:

Studies like these underscore one of the reasons why entomology is such an important science: because insects are small and because they have relatively short life-cycles, they make excellent subjects for observation. In climate studies, for instance, the effects of drought and temperature on multiple generations of insect populations can be observed within a couple of seasons, or, in some cases, months or weeks. In contrast, it can take decades to study similar effects on mammal, fish, or plant (or human!) populations.

So, as the climate-change debate continues, I'm confident that entomologists will be involved. It's good to have job security!

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