Studying 'unsung ecosystem heroes'

29 October 2018 | Environment

A landmark study of Namibian Lacewings funded by Nedbank Namibia's Go Green Fund is set to boost knowledge of the insects' occurrence and role in the environment while also addressing the severe shortage of Namibian bug scientists.

Dr Rolf Becker, dean of the faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) who heads the study, says they have two main objectives.

“From a research perspective, the goal is to survey lacewing diversity and occurrence patterns to better understand their contribution to the country's overall ecology.”

The second main objective, is human capacity development to address the lack of insect scientists in Namibia.

Lacewings are members of the Order Neuroptera, and eleven families are known to occur in Namibia presently – a figure that could change as the research progresses.

Currently there is a severe shortage of entomologists in Namibia, with very few qualified scientists educated in this field living in the country. The study hopes to boost awareness of insects in general, and particularly at university level, to encourage more students to specialize in this direction.



Help from abroad

Easing the burden, is the enrol-ment of a PhD student who registered for her studies at NUST. Gail Morland's PhD is related to the diversity of lacewings in the trans-frontier conservation areas linking Namibia's Skeleton Coast to Iona in Angola. Her enthusiasm is infectious and underlines the important bio-diversity role that insects play.

Insects, she says, are the “unsung heroes of every ecosystem on the planet. They are the little things that make is possible for large animals to survive. They are ecosystem engineers that handle the messy part that nothing else wants to do.”

She underlines the importance of the work undertaken through the study, noting the many gaps of knowledge of insects in general in Namibia.

“There is so little we know about insects and still so much left to learn and discover.”

Morland and Becker agree that to strengthen conservation efforts, ecosystem biodiversity needs to be examined extensively, and that includes insects. “As people focus more on conservation efforts, we shouldn't just be focused on the big and hairies, because without insects there wouldn't be ecosystems for them to survive in,” Morland said.



Collections

To date, the study, which is being carried out throughout the country, has resulted in more than 770 specimens collected, many from localities not previously investigated.

“Currently there are about 140 species of lacewings known to occur in Namibia, of which 24 are thought to be endemic. However, it is well known that we are far from having discovered all the insects that occur in Namibia, and similarly, for lacewings, it is anticipated that this study will find quite a number of undescribed species,” Becker says.

Already, barely a year after the study was launched, at least two to three previously undescribed species have been identified.

Many of the more than 700 specimens collected have been photographed and processed for preservation and deposition in the National Museum in Windhoek.

Becker says lacewings are “beautiful and delicate creatures”, with a superficial resemblance to dragonflies, but while similar, are easily distinguished in that they are daintier and fly mostly at night.

Obtaining a broader understanding of lacewings in Namibia will not only deepen knowledge on their distribution and role in the environment, but could strengthen conservation efforts in Namibia.

“Lacewings can be useful ecological indicators. Some species are very sensitive to environmental and habitat fragmentation and pesticide contamination and can therefore be used as barometers of environmental health,” Becker explains.

Further, because lacewing larvae are predators, they impact on populations of other insects and are thus sought after as biological control agents.



Helping hand

Nedbank Namibia's Go Green Fund supports a number of unique studies contributing to a better understanding of Namibia's lesser-known creatures and environments, collectively adding to the enhancement and improvement of conservation in the country.

“This is an excellent example of how the private sector can contribute to research and capacity building in Namibia. An example that is exemplary.”

Similar News

 

Asbestos removal project under way

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Environment

Arandis • Leandrea Louw The Walvis Bay municipal council accepted a proposal by Adcon CC to rehabilitate the hazardous waste site and create more space...

'n Swartsak vol gemors bring hoop

2 weeks ago - 07 April 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel'n Uitstappie in Windhoek se middestad het een vrou aangespoor om 'n verskil te maak en nou hoop sy ander volg in...

A world ­without waste

2 weeks ago - 07 April 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel The invention of plastic changed the world in so many ways – for better and for worse – and it's...

Seeing the unseen

4 weeks ago - 24 March 2019 | Environment

Bank Windhoek, in conjunction with the University of Namibia (Unam) and Netherland’s Radboud University (RU) Nijmegen, host a scientific event titled ‘Building the Namibian Africa...

From cooking oil to biofuel

1 month - 10 March 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda NelA bottle of cooking oil is heated up in the deep fryer to make the perfect, golden chicken nuggets. Once the oil...

How the Moringa can purify water

1 month - 10 March 2019 | Environment

Next Thursday (14 March), the National Commission on Research, Science & Technology (NCRST) hosts a public lecture presented by Prof Habauka Kwaambwa on the evaluation...

Where to with the animals?

1 month - 10 March 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Nina Cerezo Following the recent culling of hyenas to save the Wild Horses of the Garub, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta repeatedly referred to...

Climate change slows aquaculture

1 month - 03 March 2019 | Environment

Lüderitz • Ewin LeuschnerA workshop titled Enhancing Climate Change Resilience in the Benguela Current Fisheries System was ­held in Lüderitz recently, where experts discussed the...

Blue economy faces myriad challenges

1 month - 03 March 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Jana-Mari Smith “The work on Namibia's blue economy is on-going, yet little information on the status thereof exists,” says Institute for Public Policy...

Way too much waste in Africa

1 month - 24 February 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Current trends indicate that Africa's waste generation is expected to reach more than 240 million tonnes per year by 2025...

Latest News

Klein dade, groot harte

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Social Issues

Toyota Indongo het verlede week in die vroeë oggendure gaan blikskud , alles ten bate van kanker. Die gesigte getuig dat 'n klein daad almal...

Staalperde in die wilde weste

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Events

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Van 3 tot 5 Mei behoort die baan aan motorfietsentoesiaste, met die twee-jaarlikse Olifant-wedren op Gobabis wat 'n groot makietie beloof.“Die...

Only unoccupied structures to go

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Infrastructure

Yolanda Nel The bid to remove illegal structures on municipal land only refers to unauthorised incomplete and unoccupied structures. In an effort to clear the...

Asbestos removal project under way

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Environment

Arandis • Leandrea Louw The Walvis Bay municipal council accepted a proposal by Adcon CC to rehabilitate the hazardous waste site and create more space...

The gentleman netball coach

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Adolf Kaure Bobsey Kanku Musambani whose coaching has transformed netball at the coast since his introduction to the sport, was born in...

Social entrepreneurs making their mark

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Education

The Red Bull Amaphiko Connect 2019 event took place at the end of March at a warehouse in Windhoek's northern industrial with more than 30...

Say it!

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Opinion

Send your “Erongo” or “WE” SMSs to 51500 (at N$3 each) to have your say. Riverside avenue in Swakop which describes exactly where it is,...

Events calendar

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Currently running• Follow the hidden magic, an exhibition by Anja Nowack, can be viewed at El Barrio in Windhoek until 17 April.• On the Brink,...

Go forth and save!

1 week ago - 15 April 2019 | Banking

Many graduates can benefit by adopting good money management principles early in their careers to ensure a stable and stress free financial future. “Whether you...

Load More