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Saturday, 10 August 2019 08:26

WNPS lecture on ‘Insects – The hidden treasures of Sri Lanka’ on 15 August

The public lecture series of the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) on 15 August at the BMICH at 5 p.m. will focus on ‘Insects – The hidden treasures of Sri Lanka’.

z TC p28 INSECTS03The lecture will be jointly delivered by Emeritus Professor Jayanthi Edirisinghe and Professor Nirmalie Pallewatta.

WNPS quoted E.O. Wilson as saying: “If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”

WNPS said invertebrates make up nearly 90% of the world’s biodiversity and insects are the most diverse of all animals on this planet. They comprise nearly 2/3rd of all land living species. Yet, they remain poorly understood in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries like Sri Lanka. Without insects, we would not be able to live in this world. They play very important roles in ecosystem functioning, pollination being the most obvious that springs to mind. Yet, insects do much more than this. They play a big role in energy cycling in ecosystems and contribute to maintaining quality of soils and water, aerate the soil, reduce soil runoff by improving texture. In fact, as E.O. Wilson states, should insects go extinct, we and most of the rest of the living world would soon follow.

image 109f74eacaAlas, thanks to the actions of humans there has been a dramatic decline in the populations of insects. While bees have hit the headlines, insecticides and other pollutants are decimating all species of insects in all parts of the world. Unless we stop, life will!

Pleading the cause of insects, and for continued survival, are two of Sri Lanka’s entomologists, Nirmalie Pallewatta and Jayanthi Edirisinghe.

Prof. Pallewatta, is a Professor in Zoology and Environment Science at the University of Colombo. She graduated with B. Sc. Honours (First Class) Degree in Zoology from the University of Colombo and read for her Ph.D. in Entomology from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of London. She was a program officer of the Regional Biodiversity Program, Asia of the IUCN on sabbatical leave and has contributed to many regional and global environmental programs. She was the Head of the Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences and is currently the coordinator of the Business and Environment Degree program of the Faculty of Science. Her current main research focus is on aquatic insects as indicators of the quality of freshwater streams. Emeritus Professor Edirisinghe entered the University of Colombo to pursue a Degree in Zoology. On graduation, she joined the staff of Sri Jayewardenepura University as a Lecturer in Biology. She pursued her postgraduate studies in Forest Entomology at the University of Adelaide in Australia. On her return, she taught Forest Entomology in the Master’s Degree program before moving to the University of Peradeniya to join her husband.

Here, over a period of 30 years, she taught Entomology and researched the taxonomy and ecology of several groups of insects. She retired in 2014 as Professor of Applied Zoology. Professor Edirisinghe is a Senior Hays-Fulbright Fellow, a recipient of the National Science Foundation Merit Award for Scientific Excellence, Presidential Awards for Research, National Research Council Award for Scientific Publication and was the Editor-in-Chief of the Ceylon Journal of Science (Biological Science).

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