insects threatened!

Many tropical insects face extinction by the end of this century unless they adapt to the rising global temperatures predicted, US scientists have said.

Researchers led by the University of Washington said insects in the tropics were much more sensitive to temperature changes than those elsewhere.

In contrast, higher latitudes could experience an insect population boom. The scientists said changes in insect numbers could have secondary effects on plant pollination and food supplies.

In the tropics, many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive, said Joshua Tewksbury of the University of Washington.

But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it, he added.

Heat Is Online, – originally BBC News, 6 May 2008