Flying Insect Populations Have Declined By 75% Over Three Decades, Study Finds

Posted: Oct 21 2017, 2:03pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Flying Insect Populations have Declined by 75%  Over Past Three Decades, Study Finds
 

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The dramatic decline could have devastating impact on natural ecosystems

A new study has found a shocking decline in the populations of flying insects across Germany. According to the study, the country has lost more than 75 percent of its flying insect population since 1989.

Insects are crucial for natural ecosystems. They are responsible for pollinating numerous plants that make our food, including many fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Moreover, they are also a source of food for birds and small creatures. If insect decline continues at this rate, it could upset the balance of local ecosystems and could potentially lead to devastating consequences for world’s crop production.

“The fact that flying insects are decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an even more alarming discovery," said lead researcher Hans de Kroon of Radboud University.

“As entire ecosystems are dependent on insects for food and as pollinators, it places the decline of insect-eating birds and mammals in a new context.”

To determine the extent of the decline in insect populations, researchers placed sticky traps in 63 natural reserves and measured the total biomass. Researchers found that average flying insect biomass in those locations declined by 75% in just 27 years. To confirm their accuracy, researchers compared their data with the recent reports related to declining in single species like butterflies, wild bees, and moth population. Their findings were consistent with the other data, suggesting an overall alarming pattern of decline in insect diversity and abundance.

Researchers also found that the result remained the same regardless of habitat type, changes in weather and land use. That suggests that some large-scale factors must be involved in the dramatic decline and further investigation will be needed to expose the full range of climatic and agricultural variables impacting insect biomass.

Although researchers have not been able to identify any specific cause of insect decline, threats may include diseases, pesticides, and climate change.

“We need to do less of the things that we know have a negative impact, such as the use of pesticides," said de Kroon. "We also have to work hard at extending our nature reserves and decreasing the ratio of reserves that border agricultural areas."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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