Despite their small size, insects and other invertebrates are the most important animals in the Konashen forests. In fact, most other organisms, including humans, would not be able to exist if it were not for the ecosystem services provided by insects.
IN PHOTOS: View a gallery of invertebrates found on the 2006 Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area (COCA) Rapid Assessment expedition.
On the most basic level, insects are in large part responsible for creating, fertilizing and aerating soil, which allows plants to grow. They remove and recycle organic matter, allowing nutrients trapped in dead leaves or manure to return to the soil and be reabsorbed by plants. But this is just the beginning. Without insects, most plants would never be able to reproduce as they rely on these animals both for pollination and seed dispersal. In fact, nearly every food item on our tables is dependent on this insect-plant relationship. Some foods, such as honey, coffee, and virtually all fruits and vegetables, are the result of the direct action of insects, while others, such as cereals or meats, are the indirect result of insect activities.
EXPEDITION: Follow our scientists into the Konashen COCA and see what they found.
There are over a million species of insects known, but many more remain undiscovered. The forests of the Konashen COCA harbor probably tens of thousands of species of insects and other invertebrates, some still unknown to science. Almost all invertebrates are completely harmless to humans, and only very few species transmit diseases, such as malaria. Even most scorpions and spiders are harmless, and their sting is no more dangerous than the sting of a common bee.
Along with insects, other invertebrates play vital roles in the complex ecosystem of the Konashen forests. Spiders and scorpions hunt flies and other insects, regulating their populations and preventing them from becoming too abundant. In addition to all of these services, invertebrates are also food for many larger organisms such as frogs, lizards, birds, and many mammals.