Topic : The Earth’s largest phylum is Arthropoda, including centipedes, millipedes, crustaceans, and insects. The insects have shown to be a particularly successful class within the phylum. What biological characteristics have contributed to the success of insects? In many science fiction scenarios, post
The Success of Insects
Insects are some of the most successful organisms on the planet. There are a number of factors which have contributed to insects’ success on earth. Of the factors is because insects are adapted to live in different types of habitats. Insects are widely distributed on earth (Beerling, 2007). They are able to live across different ecosystems such as deserts, hot springs, tropical rain forests, arctic habitats and among others. Insects have a high reproductive capacity. Most insects are able to give a large number of offspring within a short period. This increases their numbers. Their relatively small size also contributes to their success. The small size means that they require less energy and also the less time in completing the developmental cycle. Insects have different appendages such as mouthparts, wings and legs. The mouthparts enable them feed on variety of food substances. Other appendages such as wings enable them disperse more and avoid predators. Lastly, insects have an exoskeleton which reduces water loss (Beerling, 2007).
Post-apocalyptic earth is depicted with giant insects. However today, there are no such giant insects. There a number of theories which explain the extinction of giant insects. One of the possible reasons is harsh environmental conditions which lead to their extinction. For instance a severe drought could largely affect giant insects since they need more energy leading to their extinction. The reproduction rate among giant insects could have been slow. This factor combined with other factors such as drought could have led to a mass extinction. Giant insects may also have been wiped off by super predators which preyed on them to an extent of mass extinction. Another possible version of super predators is when the predators (in this case giant insects) evolve and devours the prey more than it can naturally replace its numbers. The extinction of the prey subsequently leads to death of the super predators. Lastly, giant insects could have become extinct due to lack of adequate supply of oxygen. Larger insects are particularly vulnerable to oxygen concentrations (Beerling, 2007).
Beerling, D. J. (2007). The emerald planet: How plants changed Earth’s history. Oxford: Oxford University Press.