by Julie Peterson, UK Entomology Graduate Student
A battle that's been going on for a long time is ecological conservation vs. the interests of private property owners. Usually, insects are one of the last groups to be considered in this fight, however. The large, charismatic animal species (think cuddly koalas, majestic eagles, etc.) are the ones that tug at the heartstrings of the public, while entomologists think that the dung beetles, spiders, and flies are the charismatic ones! Luckily, arthropods are often protected by the "umbrella effect" of conservation: saving the habitat of larger vertebrates often helps the smaller invertebrates as well. So I was sort of surprised to find this article titled "Cliff residents might lose homes to save endangered beetles" in the Washington Post. In my opinion, the title should be changed to "Cliff residents might lose homes because they built their homes on cliffs!" I personally would not want to battle with tiger beetles, they're beautiful, very fast runners, and have powerful jaws. This article really bothered me: it seems like beetles are getting all the blame, when a lack of foresight by neighborhood planners (and the inevitable power of erosion...) are the true culprits.
I'm interested in hearing other people's opinions on this topic, so feel free to reply!