Canadian Forest Service Publications

Toward a holistic approach to insect population studies. 1971. Price, P.W. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 64(6): 1399-1406.

Year: 1971

Issued by: Laurentian Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 15826

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Mark record


A broad approach to sampling insect populations is advocated on the grounds that the community is more complex than all the subunits of which it is composed. Plot techniques are inadequate for sampling as they cannot be used extensively enough to cover the great variations in density, quality, and selection pressures present in a population. The correlative method, with its inherent difficulty in interpretation, can be avoided by the use of both more detailed, and more extensive studies. While plot studies are useful for many purposes, plotless techniques are often preferable in population studies because many species show strong density gradients in populations, and foci of population increase, making any 1 site unrepresentative. The case for plotless methods is supported further by data obtained on transects through insect populations. Other recent methods help in understanding insect populations and together represent 3 main approaches involving the individual, the population, and the community. By initially developing the problem around the study of individuals, critical factors are identified first and the most appropriate pattern for more extensive sampling is determined with less effort than would be required by starting with plots. In this way, sampling emphasizes an understanding of adaptation and evolution rather than a recording of only numerical data.