Parasitoid Insects, the Sentinels of the Environmental Quality of Rome
The impact of cities on animal and plant biodiversity is one of the most studied topics in ecology. Urban greenery is vital for preserving wildlife within cities. In particular, insects, among the organisms most adaptable to urbanization and also present in urban and polluted areas, contribute to essential ecosystem services, such as pollination and biological control of other harmful insects.
The new study by Daria Corcos and Pierfilippo Cerretti of the Department of Biology and Biotechnology "Charles Darwin" is the first to provide quantitative ecological data on the conservation status of parasitoid insects in Rome, the greenest metropolis in Europe. The results have been published in the journal PLoS ONE.
The parasitoid insects, subject of this research, are characterized by a larval stage in which they feed on other insects and by an adult stage in which they fly and are often attracted by the nectar of flowers, acting as pollinators.
The study, conducted in 36 green areas within the Raccordo Anulare showed how these insects, unfortunately, retain a scarce diversity of parasitoids and pollinators and how buildings and roads represent an obstacle to their movements.
"With population growth," explains Pierfilippo Cerretti, "and the consequent increase and extension of urbanized areas, finding a way to maintain a high diversity of insects that perform important ecosystem services is a key issue for maintaining good environmental quality."
The material collected and analyzed became part of the entomological collections of the Sapienza Museum of Zoology, open to the scientific community and to the public.
Impact of urbanization on predator and parasitoid insects at multiple spatial scales - Corcos, D., Cerretti, P., Caruso, V., Mei, M., Falco, M., Marini, L. - PLoS ONE 2019, 14(4)
Department of Biology and Biotechnology "Charles Darwin", Sapienza University of Rome