Turkish scientist aims to reintroduce dune crickets to world

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A scientist in Turkey’s Isparta province aims to reintroduce the dune cricket, which was thought to be extinct 20 years ago, to the world.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Prof. Gökhan Aydın from the Isparta University of Applied Sciences said he had proved approximately 20 years ago that the cricket, also known as Schizodactylus inexpectatus, was not extinct and that it self-breeds and consumes members of its own species.

Aydın, who is also head of the Plant and Animal Production Department of Atabey Vocational School in Isparta, said the cricket was discovered in Turkey at the end of the 1800s, and during that time, the number of these carnivorous grasshoppers was found to be decreasing according to studies conducted by foreign scientists.

He said they found the cricket, which was thought to be extinct because it had not been seen for a century, about 20 years ago in the Cukurova Delta in Turkey’s southern Adana province and the Goksu Delta southern Mersin province.

A number of scientists from Germany, Czechia, Italy and Poland had arrived in Turkey to study the insect’s habitat after finding out that it exists again, said Aydın.

Noting that the insect was named the dune cricket due to being a key species in desert ecosystems because it lives in the sand, Aydın said he prepared scientific publications after researching the distribution of the cricket, its biological features, the effects of humans on the species and the effects of the cricket species on other living things.

The dune cricket, which is expected to be seen in the coastal areas close to the Mediterranean, spread to the coastal areas of cities.

Noting that the species has not yet been seen on the Mediterranean coast except in Turkey, Aydın said he observed the insects for the past 20 years by visiting the Cukurova and Goksu deltas.

However, the population of the rare species is decreasing by 90% due to environmental pressures.

“This cricket, which hides in the sand during the day and does not go out for hunting, lives actively at night, feeds not only on grass but on harmful insects, and is also a cannibal. In other words, because it is a cannibal, it can eat other members of the same species,” he said.

Another interesting feature of the insect is that it self-breeds, said Aydın, while noting that it is a very “delicate” species.

“It is an endemic species in Turkey. During our studies, we determined the characteristics of this cricket and nearly 10 articles were published in international journals. We are telling the world about the scientific features of this species. In my last study, I am investigating the positive effect of this locust species on the reproduction of sea turtles,” he added.

He further noted that Turkey is rich in endemic species.

Hurriyet Daily News

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