Defying the curse of ignorance: perspectives in insect macroecology and conservation biogeography


J. Alexandre F. Diniz-Filho, Departamento de Ecologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Goiás, Campus II, 74001-970, Goiânia, GO, Brasil. E-mail:


Abstract.  1. Despite the abundance, richness and ecological importance of insects, distribution patterns remain unknown for most groups, and this creates serious difficulties for the evaluation of macroecological patterns and the underlying drivers. Although the problem is real, we provide an optimistic perspective on insect macroecology and conservation biogeography.

2. Although data for macroecological analysis of insects are not as complete as for many other organisms (e.g., mammals and birds), at least for some insect groups they are equivalent to what existed 10 or 20 years ago for the charismatic megafauna, so initiatives to compile data for broad-scale analyses are feasible.

3. The primary constraint for studies in insect macroecology and conservation biogeography is not (only) poor data; part of the problem arises from a lack of knowledge on how macroecological patterns and processes can be analysed and interpreted.

4. Finally, we present an overview of recent papers using insects as model organisms in macroecology, including richness and diversity gradients, ecogeographical rules, inter-specific relationships, conservation planning and modelling species distributions. Although our list is not exhaustive, it may be useful as guidelines for future research and encourage ICD readers to develop analyses for other insect groups.