Insect Diversity Final Draft

This topic submitted by Derek, Jared, Tony ( at 5:03 PM on 12/13/02.

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Earth Systems Syllabus -Western Program-Miami University

RESEARCH CREW...Preparing to take on the BUGS



Have you always wondered about how humans have changed the untouched aspects of nature? We have developed an experiment that will help us determine the affects of a population of humans on insect diversity. Two areas will be strategically studied, Oxford’s Mile Square, and the Bachelor Reserve. Both of these areas have very different characteristics. The Bachelor Reserve is an area that is rarely disturbed by humans except for the occasional hiker on designated trails. The Mile Square has an enormous amount of traffic from not only the University but also heavy traffic on Route 27. The Mile Square frequently undergoes new developments and construction which must have an impact on insects in the area.

We expect to find a more diverse and plentiful population of insects in the Bachelor Reserve. The impact of developing an area must have an impact on how many insects can adapt to that type of environment. The five sites that we have chose for the Mile Square differ enough that we believe we can make predictions to which sites will have the highest insect counts. Of the five chosen sites that will be listed later in the document, we believe that the least disturbed area, Bishop Woods, will have the highest insect counts.

Upon completion of this experiment we may be able to determine what, if any, certain development methods by humans, affect the insect population the most. With this information we could direct our developing techniques to lessen our affect on insects.


The pathologies of human caused effects on environment and the species that inhabit certain areas have been the source of significant scientific study. The study of these pathologies, such as habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and pollution, along with their associated effects, can gives us a greater understanding of how human activities effect habitat. In a world with a rapidly growing population, these issues will continue to move to the forefront of scientific study as human development causes greater friction with our environment.

Previous scientific literature has focused on the relationship between bioiversity and the environment. A great deal of this information discusses the effects of human development on a particular species. The conclusions tend to be analogous- habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction has a negative impact on biodiversity. We set out to discover these trends in Oxford, specifically the Bachelor Reserve and selected areas in the Mile Square of Oxford. The results were conclusive: human development has indeed resulted in loss of insect diversity, as the Bachelor Reserve proved to maintain a greater wealth of diversity.

Upon producing these results, the focus changes to a greater scope. This question involves relating these findings to the bigger picture. It essentially asks, What does this mean, and what can we do with this information?

As human development continues to increase density as well as sprawl, we will continue to encounter issues regarding biodiversity. While the implications of this will have different levels of relative importance, it is clear that we will experience many situations of loss of biodiversity, as well as extinction. This study, as well as many more before it, provides us with a glimpse of the causes and effects that are involved with biodiversity and human activities. We can utilize this information in analyzing the impact that future development will have on species diversity.

In the future, humans will frequently encounter the question at what cost? That is, what price are we willing to pay for development? Research indicates that human development can have major effects on biodiversity, to the point that, as a result of habitat fragmentation and destruction, a species is vulnerably to extinction. Therefore, as we gain further knowledge of impacts on biodiversity, we can achieve a better ability to provide an answer to the question at what cost?

Materials and Methods

To test our hypothesis we are going to take leaf-litter samples from five random spots in the Bachelor Reserve and another five in The Mile Square. Each of the ten spots will be a one-half meter squared plot. This is the best solution we could come up with to try and collect the same amount of leaf litter in each area. Statistically, this is not sound because although the areas are the same, the amount of leaf-litter collected in each area could differ because of depth of leaves on the ground.

We will then place the samples in a Berlese funnel to collect the insects for identification. This process takes several days because you have to check the funnels and make sure that the dried out leaves on top of the funnel are removed so the insects continue to move their way down into the collection jar. After collecting and identifying our insects in each sample we will compare the species diversity in the different areas. All data will be placed into Excel Spreadsheets so we can determine any patterns if any between our test sites. From this data we will be able to draw some conclusions about the affects of human development on the diversity of insects.

We believe this experiment would differ greatly depending on the sites that you chose and also the time of year when you take the samples. The sites that we chose in the Bachelor Reserve were at random and we took samples at a minimum of 50 feet of any trails so there was a lesser chance of any human interference. The sites that were chosen in the Mile Square were not picked at random. These sites were strategically picked to try and take a balance of the lower and higher trafficked areas. The time of year would have a dramatic effect on this experiment because in the warmer months of the year you would expect to find insect counts higher and also a difference in the species numbers.


- Berlese funnel - to separate the insects from the leaf-litter
- one-half square meter square frame - we will construct a wooden frame to make sure we are collecting an even amount of leaf-litter from each spot.
- Heavy duty plastic garbage bags- used for transfer of leaf-litter from each spot to our lab.
- Plastic containers- to put our insect samples in for ID
- Dissection scope- for insect ID

TimeLine (actual timeline lost in computer mishap)

October 13, 2002 - Five random sites picked on Bachelor Reserve for collecting leaf litter sample. All five samples collected. Bachelor Reserve Site #1 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

October 15, 2002 – Bachelor Reserve leaf litter sample #1 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Bachelor Reserve Site #2 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

October 17, 2002 - Bachelor Reserve leaf litter sample #2 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Bachelor Reserve Site #3 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

October 19, 2002 - Bachelor Reserve leaf litter sample #3 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Bachelor Reserve Site #4 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

October 22, 2002 – Bachelor Reserve leaf litter sample #4 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Bachelor Reserve Site #5 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

October 25, 2002 - Bachelor Reserve leaf litter sample #5 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Final insect data transferred to Excel Spreadsheet for further study.

October 30, 2002 – Five sites in Oxfords Mile Square chose for study. All five sites collected on this date and sample #1 was added to the Berlese Funnel.

November 2, 2002 – Mile Square leaf litter sample #1 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Mile Square Site #2 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

November 5, 2002 - Mile Square leaf litter sample #2 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Mile Square Site #3 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

November 7, 2002 - Mile Square leaf litter sample #3 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Mile Square Site #4 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

November 11, 2002 - Mile Square leaf litter sample #4 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Mile Square Site #5 leaf litter sample placed into Berlese Funnel for insect collection.

November 13, 2002 - Mile Square leaf litter sample #5 taken out of Berlese Funnel and insect data collected. Final insect data transferred to Excel Spreadsheet for further study.

November 21, 2002 – Data reviewed by members of group and work on releasing Final project begin.

December 10, 2002 11:03pm – Group discovers that all data on computer we have been using was lost because Windows is a big piece of *$*@. Good thing that we had a few things backed up on floppy!


Bachelor Site 1 before leaf collection...

Bachelor Site 1 - Sample Taken

The semi-untouched Bishop Woods

Shiver Center Sample Under Bushes to Left

Spring Street Site Taken at Apartment Complex

Poplar Street Site


From our study, we concluded that the Bachelor Reserve has a more diverse insect population than Oxford’s Mile Square. We found more species richness and a higher overall number of individuals in the Bachelor Reserve sites as compared to the Mile Square sites. We found 9 different families of insects in the Bachelor Reserve and 4 families in the Mile Square. In Bachelor Reserve we collected a total of 155 individual insects and in the Mile Square, we tallied 90 individuals. Table 1 summarizes our results by site in each of the two areas.

Insect distributions by site

Click HERE for full Insect Data

We used the Simpson’s Index and species richness to analyze our data. The species richness is found simply by counting the number of different species found in each area. The species richness was higher in Bachelor Reserve than it was in the Mile Square, 9 and 4 respectively.

The only problem with relying solely on the species richness to determine the relative diversity found in an area is that is doesn’t reflect the distribution of individuals within each family. For example if we found 5 different families in each of the two areas, we would not be able to distinguish the percent of each family identified. In Bachelor Reserve 80 percent of the total number of individuals could have belonged to one family while in the Mile Square there could have been an even 25 percent of each family. To solve this problem, we used the Simpson’ Index which takes into account both species richness and the proportion of each family in a sample.

The first part of Simpson’s Index tests for the probability that two randomly selected individuals in the community belong to the same species. The results of this test showed us that in the Bachelor Reserve sites it was less likely that two randomly selected individuals would belong to the same family. For Bachelor Reserve Simpson’s Index was .21 and for the Mile Square it was .28.

The second part of Simpson’s Index measures the probability that two randomly selected individuals in the community belong to the same species. In this test, the Mile Square had a lower value than the Bachelor Reserve indicating that there is more insect diversity in the Bachelor Reserve.

Check out the POWERPOINT Presentation!

Discussion and Conclusion

Based on a synthesis of the knowledge that our group has on habitat fragmentation, habitat destruction, and biodiversity, the results that we obtained were unsurprising. We can apply the book The Song of the Dodo to this project and its results. A substantial amount of the discussion and research in the book involves habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction, illustrating the associated pathologies of these issues. From the thylacine to the kestrel, David Quamann makes in explicit: human development is putting the natural world in danger of extinction. Human activity has directly and indirectly perpetrated another mass extinction.

Far removed from the exotic locations that Quamann visited, we here in Oxford, Ohio can witness similar trends. Human development has a negative effect on biodiversity. Given the lack of natural habitat that places such as uptown Oxford offers, it is expected that there will be less diversity in the area. Our results support this hypothesis.

Our research, as well as other research commonly comes to a basic conclusion: Humans destroy habitat, humans fragment habitat, and humans pollute habitat. This means doom for many species. From kestrels, to bears, to insects in Oxford, this has been illustrated.

Since the areas that we took our samples from in the Mile Square had experienced far more human development that the samples we took from the Bachelor Reserve, it was expected that there would be less diversity in the Mile Square areas. Our results supported this, with a far smaller number of insects inhabiting that area. Therefore, our results can be explained by the fact that because human development has occurred considerably more in the Mile Square, there is less diversity. This results directly from loss of natural conditions that the Bachelor Reserve offers.

As world population continues to grow, there will continue to be an increasing interest concerning the effects that human development has on biodiversity. It is as issue that involves substantial implications, especially the long-term survival of some species. Given that human development has caused a mass extinction event, it is time to start considering a fundamental change in the way we build and live. However, a fundamental change is only warranted when it is based on substantial persuasive evidence. Because of this, studies regarding the effects of human development on biodiversity are increasingly important. It is only with the support of extensive research will we be able to make a changes that will ameliorate the problems that we have perpetrated.

Even with the amount of research that has been done, there are still many questions left to be answered that will further our knowledge of effects on biodiversity. Upon analyzing the results from this study, there were several questions that we had regarding human development and diversity:

What is the relationship between intensity of development and loss of diversity? Although we selected sample areas of different intensity, such as uptown and Bishop Woods, we were still somewhat limited regarding the intensity of development that we could study in Oxford. It would be interesting to see research regarding intensity of development and its implications.

How would the results have differed during another time of the year? We questioned the significance of the time of the year the study takes place. That is, would our results have been substantially different had the study taken place in a season other than autumn?

3. To assist in future planning and legislation, there will have to be concrete numbers to use. For example, x years with y development will lead to z in loss of diversity. At this point, research has largely concentrated on the facts: Human development has a negative effect on biodiversity. But for these facts to carry and weight there will need to be numbers to deal with. Feasibility and rationality aside, many times concrete numbers cause fundamental change, not simple facts and theory.

These questions apply to suggestions for further investigation.
1. Consider levels of development and disturbance.
2. Consider the conditions that are involved when investigating biodiversity.
3. Try to formulate concrete numbers.

This research was performed with the intent that as we gain further knowledge of the effects of habitat fragmentation and habitat destruction, we will be able to accomplish sustainable planning and development.

Literature Cited

1. Di Giulio, Manuela.; Edwards, Peter J. and Meister, Erhard. Enhancing insect diversity in agricultural grasslands: the roles of management and landscape structure. Journal of Applied Ecology 2001 vol.38, pp. 310-319.
The article talks at length about diversity of insects in relation to habitat diversity, which is the underlying hypothesis of our research.

2. Hill, Jane K.; Collingham, Yvonne C.; Thomas, Chris D.; Blakeley, David S.; Fox, Richard; Moss, Dorian; Huntley, Brian. Impacts of landscape structure on butterfly range expansion. Ecology Letters. 2000 Vol. 4 pp 313-321
This article studies butterfly populations in relation to habitat, especially wooded areas, a discussion that will be a part of our research.

3. Vessby, Karolina. Habitat and Weather affect reproduction and size of the dung beetle Aphodius fosser. Ecological Entomology Aug. 2001 Vol.26 pp. 430-435.
This article examines reproduction rates according to habitat, which makes important to our study because it is assumed that with a greater diversity of habitats in the bachelor reserve, there will be a greater chance of a successful reproduction area.

4. Gillespie, Rosmary G.; Roderick, George K. Arthropods on Islands: Colonization, Specialization, and Conservation. Annual Review of Entomology, 2002 Vol. 47 Issue 1, p.595-633.
This article will be helpful because it looks at populations on islands, with a focus on isolation.

5. Hunter, Mark D. Landscape structure, habitat fragmentation, and the ecology of insects. Agricultural & Forest Entomology, Aug2002, Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp.159-167.
This is an excellent article that discusses some of the basic concepts of our research, such as fragmentation, ecology, landscape features, insect movement, and habitat boundaries, patch size, and isolation.

6. Hughes, Jennifer B.; Daily, Gretchen C.; Ehlich, Paul R. Conservation of Insect Diversity: a Habitat Approach. Conservation Biology, Dec 2000, Vol. 14, Issue 6, pp. 1788-1798.
There are three parts to this article that are of interest: 1.) the appropriate scale for sampling insect communities. 2.) the association of habitat specialization and vulnerability 3.) Insect diversity in various habitats. The third is especially of interest, as it directly relates to our research.

7. Krijger, Sevenster. Higher species diversity explained by stronger spatial aggregation across six neotropical Drosphila communities. Ecology Letters, March 2001, Vol. 4, Issue 2, pp. 106-116.
Much like our research, this was a study about insect diversity, considering disturbed and undisturbed habitats.

8. Johnson, Robert A. Ward, Philip S. Biogeography and endemism of ants in Baja California, Mexico: a first overview. Journal of Biogeography, Aug 2002 Vol. 29, Issue 8, pp. 1009-1027.
We liked this article because it included a general overview of insects and distribution, especially pertaining to habitat.

9. Metapopulation dynamics of a flightless alpine insect Hemideina maori in a naturally fragmented habitat. Ecological Entomology, Oct 2002 Vol. 27, Issue 5, 99. 574-561.
This study looks at things that are important to consider in the research that we are doing, such as kind of habitat, dispersal, and patch size.

10. Whittaker, J.B. Insects and plants in a changing atmosphere. Journal of Ecology, Aug 2001, Vol. 89, Issue 4, pp. 507-519.
We liked this article because it discusses certain human related factors in regard to insects, such as pollution and habitat loss.

Urban Integrated Pest Management is going to be a good source to help us ID our insects that we find in The Mile Square. It has links to many of the most common orders of insects we will encounter in this area.
This site will be our reference for the proper techniques to using a berlese funnel.
To research what our government is already doing to limit development to save our natural resources.

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