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Robert Peck / AP
For every human on Earth, there are estimated to be about 2.5 million ants – or 20 quadrillion in total.
A new study published by researchers from both the University of Hong Kong and the University of Würzburg in Germany attempts to calculate the total number of land-dwelling and tree-dwelling ants. The final figure is 1 trillion times 20, and the total mass of insects exceeds the combined mass of all birds and mammals, and is about one-fifth of the total biomass of humans.
And this is just a conservative estimate.
“Knowledge on the distribution and abundance of organisms is fundamental to understanding their roles within ecosystems and their ecological importance to other taxa,” the study said. “Such knowledge is currently lacking in insects, which have long been considered the “little things that run the world.”
The scientists analyzed 489 studies across continents, biomes and habitats, using methods such as studying leaf litter, studying tree-dwelling ants and pit traps, which were done by placing a beaker in the ground. is placed so that the top is level with the surface, allowing ground-dwelling ants to fall.
There are 15,700 known ant species and subspecies. These six-legged creatures play important roles in ecosystems, as they help disperse plant seeds, accelerate decomposition and support the food chain as both predator and prey.
However, despite their large numbers, their populations are declining due to habitat destruction, invasive species, and climate change.