Insects play significant roles in the ecology of the world due to their vast diversity of form, function and life-style; their considerable biomass; and their interaction with plant life, other organisms and the environment. Since they are the major contributor to biodiversity in the majority of habitats, except in the sea, they accordingly play a variety of extremely important ecological roles in the many functions of an eco-system. Taking the case of nutrient recycling; insects contribute to this vital function by degrading or consuming leaf litter, wood, carrion and dung and by dispersal of fungi.
Insects form an important part of the food chain, especially for entomophagous vertebrates such as many mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Insects play an important role in maintaining community structure and composition; in the case of animals by transmission of diseases, predation and parasitism, and in the case of plants, through phytophagy and by plant propagation through pollination and seed dispersal.:3 From an anthropocentric point of view, insects compete with humans; they consume as much as 10% of the food produced by man and infect one in six humans with a pathogen.:3
- Schowalter, Timothy Duane (2006). Insect ecology: an ecosystem approach (2(illustrated) ed.). Academic Press. p. 572. ISBN 978-0-12-088772-9. Retrieved 17 July 2010.
- Gullan, P.J.; Cranston, P.S. (2005). The insects: an outline of entomology (3 (illustrated, revised) ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 505. ISBN 978-1-4051-1113-3. Retrieved 17 Jul 2010.
- Speight, Martin R.; Hunter, Mark D.; Watt, Allan D. (1999). Ecology of insects: concepts and applications (4(Illustrated) ed.). Wiley-Blackwell. p. 350. ISBN 978-0-86542-745-7. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
- Huffaker, Carl B. & Gutierrez, A. P. (1999). Ecological Entomology. 2nd Edition (illustrated). John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0-471-24483-X, ISBN 978-0-471-24483-7.Limited preview on Google Books. Accessed on 09 Jan 2010,
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