In case we needed yet another example of how insect societies make things happen on our planet, here’s a striking result from Australia:
Researchers found that wheat yields dropped 36% in plots experimentally deprived of ants and termites.
That’s simply astounding. The severity of the effect amazes even me, and I’m as dedicated an ant cheerleader as they come. Crop scientists spend years tweaking ag fields to inch yields up a couple percentage points, and here are some insects that can bump yields by the double-digits. Talk about Ecosystem Services.
source: Evans, T.A. et al. Ants and termites increase crop yield in a dry climate. Nat. Commun. 2:262 doi: 10.1038/ncomms1257 (2011).