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  Iowa's Biological Diversity

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People and Biological Diversity

Most of the biological diversity of Iowa, and of the world in general, is in the insects.  Historically, however, little attention has been paid to conservation of insects, while a lot of time, effort, and money has been spent on control of certain pest species of insects.

Certain groups have been studied more than others, and some of the subgroups of insects (butterflies, for example), will have a separate information page.

Insects have been studied because of their economic values.  However, recently insects have been studied just because they are fun to study.

A case in point starts with a website, Bugguide.  The website was started by a computer programmer, Troy Bartlett, who had a hobby of  photographing insects.  The premise was that people could submit photographs and build a guide to the insects.  People could submit photographs and experts would identify them.   When the website became so large that he could no longer devote the time needed to keep it up, he turned it over to Iowa State University, mostly through the efforts of John Van Dyke Jr.  Bugguide has now become a resource used by scientists, as well as a platform for insect enthusiasts.  There is even a community of people who have used this website and set up events around insect photography.  The photograph in the center above is from a "Bugguide gathering" event held in Iowa in 2011.  People from all over the country came to Ames and participated in field trips around Iowa, where they could be seen photographing insects.  I went to that and enjoyed myself immensely.

There has also been an annual "Day of Insects" at Reiman Gardens in the late winter or early spring.  The event attracts a number of insect enthusiasts who give short presentations on what they have done recently.

There is a website, The Insects of Iowa, which lists a number of species for Iowa, with a special emphasis on moths.  There is also a discussion forum, the Iowa Insects ListServe.  Information on how to subscribe to it is found here.