Hymenoptera, the bees, wasps and ants, are one of the largest insect orders, and have massive ecological importance as pollinators and as predators or parasitoids of other insects. These roles have brought them forcefully to human notice, as governors of some key ecological services that strongly influence human food supply. Recent declines of pollinators and introductions of alien pests or biological control agents are only part of the current concerns for conservation of Hymenoptera, and of the interactions in which they participate in almost all terrestrial ecosystems. Both pests and beneficial species abound within the order, sometimes closely related within the same families. Many taxa are both difficult to identify, and very poorly known.
This global overview, the first such account for the whole of the Hymenoptera, discusses a broad range of themes to introduce the insects and their conservation roles and needs, and how their wellbeing may be approached. Hymenoptera and Conservation is intended as a source of information for research workers, students, conservation managers and naturalists as an introduction to the importance of this dominant insect order.
1 Introducing Hymenoptera and their Conservation
Classification and diversity 1
Importance for conservation 14
Social life and conservation 24
2 Alien Hymenoptera in Classical Biological Control
Introducing a dilemma 28
Conservation concerns 28
3 The Junction of Biological Control and Conservation: Conservation Biological Control and Cultural Control
4 Introduced Bees: Threats or Benefits?
5 Social Wasps and Ants as Aliens
Social wasps 63
Current perspective 79
6 Pollinator Declines
Introducing the concerns 82
Threats to pollinators 92
Pathogens and parasites 93
7 Levels of Conservation Concern and the Shortcomings of Current Practice
Foci for conservation 100
Species focus 104
Biotope and habitat focus 122
8 Habitat Parameters and Manipulation
Defining and assessing habitats in the landscape 138
Habitat manipulations for conservation 141
Natural and agricultural environments 141
Urban environments 147
Practical conservation 150
9 Species Case Histories
Franklin's bumblebee (Bombus franklini) 170
The great yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus) 170
Wallace's bee (Chalicodoma pluto) 173
Neopasiphae simplicior in Western Australia 174
The antennal-waving wasp (Tachysphex pechumani) 174
The dinosaur ant (Nothomyrmecia macrops) 175
The red-barbed ant (Formica rufi barbis) in Britain 177
10 Assessing Conservation Progress and Priorities for the Future
Introduction: The basic need 179
The milieux of concern 185
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Emeritus Professor Tim New, from the Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Melbourne has broad interests in insect conservation, ecology and systematics. He has published extensively on these topics and is recognised as one of the leading advocates for insect conservation.