Tuesday , September 28 2021

High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere negatively affect the size and survival of scarabs

High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere negatively affect the size and survival of scarabs

Credit: Wits University

Climate change is a reality of the 21st century that is difficult to avoid. The burning of fossil fuels in industry, transportation, and other activities of daily living by Homo sapiens resulted in high CO2 levels.2nd in the Earth’s atmosphere. Extreme weather conditions, as seen in recent floods, droughts and fire events around the world, are some of the most obvious ways to increase CO2.2nd levels change our world. But CO has some serious effects.2nd Having less easily observed ones in our ecosystems.

Wits University postdoctoral fellow Dr. A new study led by Claudia Tocco, high CO22nd levels directly affect the development and survival of tunnel scarabs (Euoniticellus intermedius). Research published in the international journal, Global Change Biologypresents a possible explanation for the current ‘bug apocalypse’ – a global decline in insect populations that is still not well understood.

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“The idea to study the effects of high CO22nd Tocco says the levels in dung beetles are the result of ‘accidental science’.2nd Conditions to explore how these plants might be affected under future scenarios in our changing world.” Venter was looking at CO2.2nd levels under four scenarios: pre-industrial (~1750), modern time, 30 years later and 50 years later. Senior author of the article and Dr. Tocco’s postdoctoral advisor, Prof. “Why not put some scarabs in the same conditions and see what happens,” said Marcus Byrne. What they found was a surprise.

Insects grown under high atmospheric CO levels2nd experienced lower survival rates and were smaller in size. “When grown under CO2nd At projected levels for 2070, a third fewer insects appeared and were 14% smaller in size compared to pre-industrial CO2.2nd levels,” Tocco says.

“We were surprised when we first found this result,” Byrne said. says. “We didn’t expect such a drastic effect. We were actually not convinced at first that this result was real, so we repeated the experiment – but kept getting the same result”. “We knew CO2 was rising2nd levels can affect insects indirectly by changing plant quality,” says Venter, “but he did not expect such a direct effect on the insects themselves.”

Credit: Wits University

Evidence is in the ground

Another of Tocco’s colleagues and Prof. Byrne’s other labmate in his research group, Dr. “Like many insects, dung beetles spend most of their lives in the soil as larvae, pupae, and adults,” says Blair Cowie. “Most people are perhaps unaware of the increase in atmospheric CO2.2nd levels also affect soil, and our study shows that it can also affect soil-dwelling animals.”

The team suspects adverse effects experienced by dung beetles under increased CO2 scenarios.2nd This study may be a result of increased competition between insects and bacteria in the soil. “Our next step is to do more experiments to distinguish whether it is CO or not.2nd dung balls, brood balls, or soil levels in general that affect dung beetle development,” says Cowie.

“The fact that dung beetles’ lives are so closely linked to the soil makes them excellent model organisms for investigating changes in soil ecology,” says Tocco. “If atmospheric CO2nd It affects scarabs, it affects other insects”.

Explaining the insect apocalypse

Findings from this study may provide new insights into the cause of global insect declines. So far, other explanations put forward have been dubious and there is no universally accepted justification. Changes in climatic conditions vary around the world, and some temperature changes can actually be beneficial to insects. The use of insecticides is also unregulated and not common in all parts of the planet. “Our findings on how much CO2 has increased2nd levels affecting scarabs offer a plausible explanation for the insect apocalypse due to increases in CO2.2nd it’s consistent across the planet,” says Tocco.

These new findings follow another recent breakthrough by Byrne and his team, in which they found that light pollution negatively impacts scarabs’ ability to orient themselves. “While a solution to light pollution is easy, we just need to turn off our lights – CO2nd The problem is the bigger battle to be fought,” says Byrne. “We need to seriously support the move away from fossil fuels and invest in renewable energy – or we’ll lose the vital ecosystem services that insects provide us for free.”

Dung beetle experiment shows carbon dioxide is bad for insects, too

More information:
Claudia Tocco et al., High atmospheric CO2 adversely affects the growth of a scarab: Another potential cause of declining insect numbers?, Global Change Biology (2021). DOI: 10.1111 / gcb.15804

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