Warmer = more insects eating = higher CO2?

Fossilized leaf damage caused by insects

Fossilized leaf damage by Paleocene–Eocene insects

Today I’m doing some quick research on insects and climate change. Here’s a 2008 paper that provides food for thought: Currano et al. found fossil evidence that an abrupt warming event 55.8 mya was correlated with increased leaf-eating by insects, which in turn releases more CO2 into the atmosphere. The warming event–called the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum–was an abrupt change linked to a transient increase in atmospheric CO2 and is considered to be comparable in rate and magnitude to modern anthropogenic climate change.

We can’t jump to conclusions, but it’s certainly an area worthy of more research. Evidence continues to mount that insects will move to new ranges (generally away from the tropics toward the poles) and that the proportions will change, with “pest” species increasing in numbers.

via Sharply increased insect herbivory during the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum — PNAS.


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