Sunday, 1 May 2016

Flightless survivors: Incredible invertebrate diversity in Los Angeles metropolitan area

Date:April 28, 2016
Source:Pensoft Publishers

Flight is one of nature's greatest breakthroughs. It enables escape, dispersion, and exploration. Lacking flight keeps you grounded -- sometimes for a long time even from evolution's perspective. The Madrona Marsh Preserve is a small nature preserve in one of the world's largest metropolitan areas, which has withstood decades of farming, oil exploration, and development pressures. Surprisingly, a treasure of flightless animals survived.

Urban wildlife is surprisingly understudied. We tend to know more about animals in exotic places than about those that live in our cities.

This is why researchers Emile Fiesler, president of Bioveyda Biological Inventories, Surveys, and Biodiversity Assessments, USA, and Tracy Drake, manager of the Madrona Marsh Preserve, looked into the fauna of the Madrona Marsh Preserve, California, a small nature preserve in one of the world's largest metropolitan areas.

Consequently, they published the astonishing number of 689 species of invertebrates, which have managed to survive decades of farming and oil exploration, followed by development pressures, in the open access Biodiversity Data Journal. The study was minimally invasive as the live animals have been recorded with macro-photography.

Even though it is the insects that first developed the ability to fly, long before the dinosaurs became birds, the latter have always received the most of our attention. This major evolutionary breakthrough, which has occurred more than once in the past, is also a reason why insects are currently the most diverse animals on earth in terms of number of species.

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