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Insects of Fiji

Vinesh Maharaj
Sunday, November 05, 2017

Insects are a very diverse group worldwide of the animal kingdom and this is no less the case in Fiji.

In their approach, the authors provide a fundamental understanding of these little invertebrates and their economic importance. Insects are not well understood nor even appreciated. Many class them as nuisances and pests and even risk of diseases which mosquitos carry such as dengue and filariasis.

The authors of Insects of Fiji illustratively define what insects are, their characteristics, features and functions and how significantly they add economic value. From their definition, the authors trace the evolution which emerged in the fossil record about 407-396 million years with theories for their spices richness and diversity and how this is related to their size and age. One of the very important points discussed is the evolutionary relationships of the insects with flowering plant and how these plants evolve defensive techniques to counter the attack of the species. Insects are pollinators that keep this world supply of fruits and vegetables. Many plants have evolved to use insects as pollinators and have diverse ways to attract insects to maintain the pollination process and genetic variance. The transfer of pollen from flower to flower, insects ensure the process of pollination by which it provides us with food. Insects also eat dead plant and animals by which they help to break down the dead matter and help recycle nutrients.

When ants eat organic materials, they are helping recycle important nutrients. Insects also help us to solve crimes and provide research subjects. However, insects do have negative impacts on our economy as millions of dollars are spent to combat pests such as dalo beetles, mosquitoes and termites.

Insects are truly an amazing wonder of nature but it is very unfortunate the not enough studies and materials are there that educate on the insects that are found in Fiji, but in the last decade, there has been an increased interest shown by tertiary students studying entomology and research which has received welcome and encouragement by many institutions and organisations towards this advances. More effort is needed to fully understand insects before species are lost from factors such as habitat degradation on climate change and invasive species.

The traditional economic entomology book focuses on local (Fiji) insects. The main setting for this book is Fiji's first and only national park so far, the Sigatoka Sand Dunes.

A place which is very significant to study entomology — (A branch of science that deals with the study of insects) because this special place helps to create more awareness on its richness in history and biodiversity and as well as the rare landscape of the sand hills in the Pacific region. This book has been published with the hope that more people in Fiji will learn and appreciate the importance of the insects and appreciate their existence. The National Park has been vital in understanding the migrants of human in the Pacific and in Fiji and has contributed towards the research of the lapita poetry which suggests that the human arrivals in Fiji dated back to 2600 years ago.

The park also helps the bio-diversity with its dry beach forest and provides shelter and home for numerous endemic plants, birds, lizards, bats and insects in its 650 hectares of conserved geographical settings.

Insects of Fiji is a very welcome addition to Fiji's natural history publications and definitely has a place in schools and universities locally and internationally. The book was officially launched at the opening of the National Library Week on September 2, 2017 at the Market Park in Savusavu by the chief guest, Kelera Taloga, deputy secretary professional for the Ministry of Education, National Heritage and Arts.

* Insects of Fiji ( 100 pages)

* USP Press, The University of the South Pacific

* Price: $37

* Available at USP Book Centre. Email maharaj_v@usp.ac.fj , website www.uspbookcentre.com

Quick facts:

* Book - INSECTS OF FIJI

* A brief introduction to their natural history,

diversity and importance.

* Invertebrates: The little things that run the world (Wilson 1987)

* Authors: Sunil R. Prasad and Paddy Ryan

* Vinesh Maharaj works at the USP Bookshop. Views expressed are his and not of this newspaper or his employer.








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