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Blowflies can help in monitoring environmental changes, a study cues

Scientists from IUPUI have found that environmental changes could be effectively tracked with the help of blowflies. Blowflies belong to a family of insects in fly order Diptera that are metallic blue, green, or black in color, and are noisy in flight. Adult blow flies feed on a variety of materials, but the larvae of these species are scavengers that live on carrion. The adults lay their eggs on dead animals and the larvae feed on decaying flesh.

In general, these blowflies are present in all continents with exception of Antarctica. Therefore, they keep guard on the animal’s response to climate change. However, they have no idea of what type of carcasses they feed in the wild. The only way we could find is with the help of stable isotopes. Stable isotopes include carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. They are available in the food we eat, and they become a part of us.

The study

In this study, the researchers collected blowflies from different locations and they kept in a high-temperature furnace to convert the N and C in the blowfly into nitrogen and carbon dioxide gases respectively. These gases then analyzed in a stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Therefore, these N and C isotopes carry beneficial information regarding the diet. Nonetheless, the animal that eats meat has high nitrogen isotope values while the animals that eat plants have low nitrogen isotope values. Also, Carbon isotopes relay details on the main form of sugar that is in the diet.

Based on this study, the researchers are able to determine the type of carcass the blowflies feed when they are in their larval stage. Therefore, variations in the isotopes provided by the blowflies will give directions, and hence assist in detecting the changes in the ecosystem. Moreover, with repeated sampling, one can keep an eye on animal health and wellness.

Despite this era of climate change, this research would portray as an eye opener for investigating several global issues. This could provide us early signals for tracking the ecosystem in response to climate change.

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Source: Science Daily

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