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昆虫,地球真正的征服者 – 译学馆
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昆虫,地球真正的征服者

Why are there so many insects? - Murry Gans

如果昆虫突然变异成巨型昆虫
If insects suddenly morphed into large beings,
然后决定向我们发起复仇战争
and decided to wage war on us,
毫无疑问人类会输给它们
there’s no doubt that humans would lose.
我们会直接被它们惊人的数字碾压
We’d simply be crushed by their sheer numbers.
据估计 地球上约有十个一百万的三次方只昆虫
There are an estimated 10 quintillion individual insects on Earth.
那是一个“1”后面跟了19个“0”
That’s a one followed by 19 zeroes.
和我们的70亿人口相比
So, compared with our population of about 7 billion,
每一个人类需要对付十亿多只这样的无脊椎动物
these invertebrates outnumber us by more than a billion to one.
这样惊人的数字也存在于其他物种中
Their astounding numbers exist at the species level, as well.
地球上有超过6,0000种蔬菜
There are more than 60,000 vertebrate species on the planet.
但昆虫已知的种类就有一百万个
But the class of insects contains a million known species,
剩下的还有很多未被分类
and many others that haven’t been classified.
事实上 这些小生命占据了地球上全部动物的75%
In fact, these critters make up approximately 75% of all animals on Earth.
那么 它们成功的秘诀是什么
So, what’s their secret to success?
昆虫的丰富来源于许多因素
Insect abundance comes down to many things
这些因素使它们中的一部分成为了适应性和自愈能力最强的生物
that together make them some of the most adaptable and resilient creatures,
让我们从它们令人印象深刻的繁殖能力开始
beginning with their impressive ability to breed.
许多昆虫在它们一生之中能繁衍成百上千的后代
Many species can produce hundreds of offspring within their lifetimes.
其中大多数会死去
Most offspring will die,
但仍有相当多的会存活到成虫期然后继续繁殖
but more than enough will survive into adulthood to reproduce.
同时 幼虫成长得非常快
Offspring also mature very rapidly,
因此 这个繁殖循环恢复得非常快
so the cycle of reproduction resumes quickly,
并且能在短时间内重复多次
and can occur over and over again in a short time.
这些数字说明 作为一个种族
These numbers mean that as a class,
昆虫具有数量庞大的遗传多样性
insects harbor a tremendous amount of genetic diversity.
不同的物种包含了大量遗传基因
The different species contain a wealth of genetic data
在全球环境中
that give them the necessary adaptations they need to thrive
这赋予了它们繁荣所必要的适应性
in a range of environments across the planet.
即使是在最极端的环境中也能存活的适应性
Even some of the most extreme environments are in bounds;
扁甲虫能在40华摄度下生存
Flat bark beetles can live at -40 degrees Fahrenheit,
撒哈拉沙漠的蚂蚁
Sahara Desert ants can venture out
能在超过155度的地表上外出探险
when surface temperatures exceed 155 degrees,
还有一些大黄蜂能在1,8000尺的海平面之上存活
and some bumblebees can survive 18,000 feet above sea level.
昆虫的外骨骼如同它们的盔甲
Insect exoskeletons also work like body armor,
保护它们免受外部伤害
protecting insects against the outside world
并帮助它们适应别的生物无法适应的栖息地
and helping them cope with habitats that other creatures can’t.
甚至它们娇小的身材
Even their small size,
一个看似的弱点
which we might see as a disadvantage,
也成为了它们的助力
is something they use to their benefit.
正因为昆虫大多数的种类个子很小
Because most species are so tiny,
一块小小的地方能容纳成百上千万的昆虫
millions of insects can inhabit a small space
并被充分地利用每一寸资源
and make use of all the available resources within it.
这意味着它们能占据生态系统中上上下下不同的生态位
This means they can occupy hundreds of different niches across ecosystems.
一些昆虫的食物包括根
Some insects survive by eating the roots,

stems,

leaves,
种子
seeds,
花粉
pollen,
还有一些特定植物的花露
and nectar of specific plants.
其他的像是黄蜂
Others, like wasps,
会用麻醉针猎捕其他的昆虫
make use of live insects by paralyzing the victims
并在猎物的身体里产卵
and laying their eggs inside
这样当蜂卵孵化时
so that when the hatchlings emerge,
幼虫就可以啃出通向外界的路并获得营养
they can eat their way out and get nourishment.
蚊子和吸血苍蝇以血液为食
Mosquitos and biting flies feed on blood,
靠这种不同寻常的方式确保自己的生存
taking advantage of this unusual resource to ensure their survival.
还有一长串其他的昆虫围绕着排泄物建立了有利可图的市场
And a whole bunch of other insects have built a niche around feces.
苍蝇在这里下蛋
Flies lay their eggs there,
还有一些甲壳虫甚至用动物的粪便滚成了大球
and some beetles even build large balls out of animal dung,
用来当做孵化虫卵的摇篮
which they eat and use as accommodation for their eggs.
还有昆虫强有力的变态能力
And then there’s the insects’ mighty power of metamorphosis.
这种能力不仅使昆虫变形
This trait not only transforms insects,
还使它们最大程度地获取生态系统中的资源
but also helps them maximize the available resources in an ecosystem.
说说蝴蝶
Take butterflies.
在它们处于毛虫阶段时
In their larval caterpillar form,
它们以高速效率啃食叶子
they chomp hungrily through leaves at a rapid rate
来帮助它们成长并结茧
to help them grow and spin cocoons.
但当它们以蝴蝶形态出现时
But when they emerge as butterflies,
它们就只以花蜜为食了
these insects feed only on flower nectar.
变态意味着同一种昆虫的幼体和成年体
Metamorphosis means the larvae and adults of one species
永远不会竞争同种资源
will never compete for the same resource,
因此它们和谐地分享着生态资源
so they successfully share an ecological niche
而不必限制自身的发展
without limiting their own success.
这种模式十分高效
This process is so efficient
以至于86%的昆虫都会经历变态
that an incredible 86% of insect species undergo complete metamorphosis.
我们很大而它们很小
We’re big and they’re small,
所以我们很容易忘记大地上有成百上千万的昆虫在奔走
so it’s easy to forget that these critters are moving in their millions
每地每处
all around us,
每时每刻
all the time.
但当你观察任何一寸土地
But examine almost any patch of ground,
你都会发现它们的身影
and you’re sure to find them there.
它们的数量是巨大的 它们的成功是无与伦比的
Their numbers are immense, and their success is unmatched.
我们必须接受 是昆虫
We may have to accept that it’s insects,
而不是我们
not us,
是这个星球真正的征服者
that are the true conquerors of the planet.

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你知道昆虫为什么是地球的真正的征服者吗?它们的胜利之道又是什么呢?

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