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IN THIS SECTION: Species-scape | Sixth Extinction | HIPPO

photo of an antSPECIES-SCAPE
No matter how much they bug us, insects - and especially ants - play one of the most important roles in the global ecosystem. These little critters that invade our picnics and or leave us with scratchy bites are actually very important in the lives of humans. Insects aid in decomposition, provide us with food, pollinate plants and condition the soil that we depend on to grow crops.

Despite their small size, insects' role in biodiversity is very important. Insects outnumber all other creatures on Earth - both in terms of the number of species and in their population. To visualize the relationship between the species, click on see it below.

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THE SPECIES-SCAPE illustrates the relationship of all the different types of species on the planet. Humans don't come out on top.


Scientists are unsure exactly what important role every plant or animal plays in the environment. There are nearly 2 million species of living organisms identified by scientists, but it is estimated that there are probably millions more that have not been discovered yet. But species are going extinct by the thousands before we have a chance to understand what role they play in an ecosystem.

nextClick here to see how humans are speeding up extinction in our world.


Insects have already taken over the world. Scientists estimate that there are about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (one billion billions!) insects alive at any given time around the world.

There are currently 6 billion humans on Earth.



Dept. of Natural Resources | Local Hazardous Waste Management Program

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updated September 11, 2000

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