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A world controlled by ants

A world controlled by ants

There are at least 20 quadrillion ants on Earth, a new study estimates, suggesting that this staggering number will likely reduce the total population of these insects, an essential part of the entire planet’s ecosystems. Determining the number of ants in the world is important for measuring the consequences of changes to their habitat, including those caused by climate change. They play an important role in dispersing seeds, harboring organisms, and acting as predators or prey.

Some studies have attempted to estimate the number of ants in the world, but they have led to a much smaller number. In this new attempt, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers analyzed 465 studies that measured the number of ants locally on Earth. They used two standard methods: setting traps that capture ants that have passed over a certain period of time or analyzing the number of ants in a portion of identified leaves in the soil.

Although consultations are conducted on all continents, some key regions have little or no data, including Central Africa and Asia. Therefore, “the actual number of ants worldwide is likely to be much higher” than estimated, the study says. “It is very important that we fill in the remaining blanks to get a complete picture of the diversity of insects.”

According to the estimated number of ants, their total biomass on Earth is believed to be 12 million tons, more than that of birds and land mammals combined, and 20% of the mass of humans. (From the newsroom, with AFP)

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