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Re: A whole lot of trouble....



Nick Longrich wrote:

>       I would argue, just by looking at modern ecosystems, that
>vertebrate competition could be one of the major factors in preventing big
>bugs. Wetas, for example, are enormously huge crickets, from New Zealand,
>which was totally devoid of any rodents, though it does have geckos and
>tuataras.

Before anyone gets too excited I should point out that wetas are flightless.
Insular gigantism is known for a number of insects - giant longicorn beetles
on Fiji, giant earwigs (extinct) on Saint Helena, the largest swallowtail in
the New World on Jamaica - but for sheer bulk goliath beetles from Africa
are, I believe, the record-holders, and there are lots of vertebrates in Africa!

> The strange thing is that this seems like it is reversed in the
>water- king crab, spider crab, tanner crab, maine lobster, giant (1'
>long) isopods and huge sea-spiders from cold waters, with relatively
>few large arthropods from warmer waters- spiny lobster being the
>biggest I can think of.

This may have to do with the comparative richness of colder marine waters
with respect to some lower items in the food chain.  Big filter-feeding
whales hang out in the colder latitudes, too.

--
Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886 (home)
International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116 (home)
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