V

insect ecology at the individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels of organization. Resource acquisition and allocation by individuals (Section I) can be seen to depend on population (Section II), community (Section

THE PREVIOUS FOUR SECTIONS HAVE ADDRESSED

III), and ecosystem (Section IV) conditions that the individual also influences. Insects are involved in a particularly rich variety of feedbacks between individual, population, community, and ecosystem levels as a consequence of their dominance and diversity in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their sensitivity and dramatic responses to environmental changes. The hypothesis that insects are major regulatory mechanisms in homeostatic ecosystems has important ecological and management implications and warrants critical testing.

The importance of temporal and spatial scales is evident at each level of the ecological hierarchy. Individuals have a period and range of occurrence, populations are characterized by temporal dynamics and dispersion patterns, and communities and ecosystems are represented over temporal and spatial scales. In particular, ecosystem stability and its effect on component individuals traditionally has been evaluated at relatively small scales, in time and space, but larger scales are more appropriate. The dynamic mosaic of ecosystem types at the landscape or biome level is conditionally stable in its proportional representation of ecosystem types.

This concluding chapter summarizes and synthesizes the study of insect ecology. The focus will be on important aspects of insect ecology, major applications, and intriguing questions for future study.

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