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SAVING THE WORLD: BIG DATA AND INSECTS

PRESS RELEASE

A Royal Entomological Society meeting on “e-Ecology”

Insects are a critical part of the natural world, responsible for one third of our food, almost one fifth of human deaths, and the foundations of all ecosystems on land. But our planet is sick, from climate change, biodiversity loss, and emergent viruses. As Sir David Attenborough intimated in his recent documentary, all are caused by negative interactions between an expanding human population and the remainder of the natural world.

We won’t be able to cure our planet until we have robust tools to assess the state of the patient and to provide the information required by policy makers to mitigate the dire situation in which we find ourselves. Nowhere is this gap more obvious than in insects.

Recent developments in computing technologies have been game changing in many areas of our daily lives. These tools are fuelling the rise of a new area of scientific endeavour, e-Ecology, which harnesses the power of edge-computing (computing done near the source of the data), IoT (Internet of Things) technologies and artificial intelligence, to measure biodiversity loss, climate change and ecosystem degradation in real-time.

The Royal Entomological Society is holding an on-line meeting on Monday 19th October to present some of the real-time technologies for monitoring insects and to discuss issues associated with their use.

One of the convenors, Dr Mark O’Neill, said: As a species we have failed the planet miserably. We forget that we are a component of the natural world. When we cause damage to it, we hurt ourselves. Our current existential problems including COVID-19, fires in the high Arctic and increasingly powerful tropical storms are stark reminders of this. “Big data” collected in real time are an essential part of understanding the issues, and hence providing remedies.

As the great American biologist, naturalist and writer, E.O Wilson said, insects are the little things which run the world.

To join the meeting please contact Fran Sconce.

Notes to Editors:

The Royal Entomological Society is one of the oldest entomological societies in the world. Many eminent scientists of the past, including Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, have been fellows. The Society organises regular meetings for insect scientists, as well as hosting international symposia and events for the public. It publishes journals and books as well as identification guides. It has fellows and members all over the world. The aim of the Society is “the improvement and diffusion of entomological science”. www.royensoc.co.uk 

 

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