Environment, planetary invasion of ants: 20 million billion on earth

On earth 20 million billion ants, counting allows us to measure the effect of climate change on species and changes in their habitat

On the Terra there are 20 million billion ants, which represent 20% of the biomass of human beings. The data is contained in a study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) which crosses the results of 465 researches and local measurements carried out on the ground, in the four corners of the planet. There biomass total of ants on Earth – measured in dry matter – it is therefore estimated at 12 million tons: more than the biomass of wild birds and mammals combined, 20% of that of humans. Count the ants it allows, among other things, to measure the effect of climate change on species and changes in their habitat.

The researchers pointed out that this is however a probably widely underestimated estimate of the world population of these insects crucial for their ecosystem, to be a means of dispersion for plant seeds, but also host for some organisms and predators or prey for others. animals. The hundreds of studies consulted to reach this result – the highest ever achieved – have used two standardized techniques: placing traps that capture passing individuals for a certain period of time or analyzing the number of ants present on a specific patch of foliage on the ground. Although surveys were conducted on all continents, some large regions presented very little or no data, particularly in Central Africa and Central Asia.

“The true abundance of ants it is probably considerably higher. It is of the utmost importance that these gaps are filled, in order to provide a complete picture “underlined the researchers. Also according to the same study, on a world scale there are more than 15,700 species and subspecies of ants. All are found everywhere on the planet, but about two-thirds of species are found in only two types of ecosystems: tropical forests and savannahs. The next global study will focus on the environmental factors that determine the density of the populations of ants.

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