Scientists Glue Fake Caterpillars On Plants To Reveal Global Predation Patterns

Posted: May 19 2017, 6:59am CDT | by , Updated: May 19 2017, 7:29am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Scientists Glue Clay Caterpillars on Plants Globally to Reveal Predation Patterns
This is a dummy caterpillar used at a site in Tai Po Kau, Hong Kong. Using plasticine caterpillar models like this one at the Smithsonian's Forest GEO site of Tai Po Kau in Hong Kong, researchers discovered a global pattern of higher predation at low elevations and low latitudes. Image Credit: Chung Yun Tak
  • Artificial Caterpillar Research shows Planetary Trends in Predatory Behavior

A piece of research on artificial caterpillars has shown the planetary trends in predatory behavior.

Plasticine dummy caterpillars were used in research on the global village’s main insect predation areas. The tropics have a greater number of species than the poles. The question regarding whether or not the predation was also greater around the tropics remained to be answered.

The surprising results of the study showed that predatory behavior near the equator was driven not by birds or mammals but by ants and other arthropods.

The caterpillars that got eaten were tallied from the Arctic Circle to Southern Australia. The researchers implanted artificial caterpillars made of plasticine on plants around the world.

Avians and ants which are the predators of these caterpillars were than bamboozled into taking them to be real and pouncing on them. These living creatures only realized their mistake when they had taken a bite or two.

The researchers revisit the sites to see which species bit the fake caterpillars. Each species has a unique set of bite marks. Just by looking at the fake caterpillar, you can gauge what attacked it in the first place.

The maximum attacks on these fake caterpillars occurred at sea level rather than in the forest regions. Caterpillars consume plants and cause a lot of crop damage.

That is why many plants have built-in chemicals to deter these caterpillars from eating them. Also the caterpillars have a number of ways of camouflaging themselves and warding off potential predators.

Biodiversity is maximized around the equator.The researchers modeled their caterpillars on the green inchworms you normally find in your garden.

Indeed predation increased around the equator rather than the poles. Also the chances of a caterpillar being attacked by a predator near sea level was also greater than on top of a mountain.

The fake caterpillars used in the research were forced out of a tool which looked like a garlic press. The fact that the researchers used tiny artificial caterpillars for their research efforts shows their level of ingenuity and improvisational skills.

Science definitely knows how to find its way around obstacles. While the caterpillars employed in Greenland didn’t work since no animals bit into them, those used in the tropics sure were functional since many animals bit into them.

Thus via this study we can see the patterns of predation around the world as far as the consumption of caterpillars is concerned.

This new study is published in the journal Science.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
Sumayah Aamir (Google+) has deep experience in analyzing the latest trends.




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