18 July 2016

Worldwide Decline of Insect Populations

In study after study, we are learning that the volume of insects is greatly diminishing worldwide.

From Yale Environment 360:

According to data on more than 400 species, there has been a 45 percent drop in global invertebrate numbers over the past 40 years. In one annual survey in Germany, the average biomass of insects caught between May and October has decreased from 3.5 pounds per trap in 1989 to just 10.6 ounces in 2014. Scientists say various factors — from monoculture farming to pesticide use to habitat loss — are to blame for the plight of insects, which are essential to agriculture and functioning ecosystems. Schw√§gerl writes that researchers are racing to improve monitoring of these disappearing species. In Germany, only 37 insect species are closely tracked — a mere 0.12 percent of all species. “There's a risk we will only really take notice once it is too late," one scientist warns.

There is more. Berlin based journalist Christian Schwagerl reports in GEO that
"The decline is dramatic and depressing and it affects all kinds of insects, including butterflies, wild bees, and hoverflies," says Martin Sorg, an entomologist from the Krefeld Entomological Association involved in running the monitoring project. 

and
A significant drop in insect populations could have far-reaching consequences for the natural world and for humans, who depend on bees and other invertebrates to pollinate crops. A study by Canadian biologists, published in 2010, suggests that North American bird species that depend on aerial insects for feeding themselves and their offspring have suffered much more pronounced declines in recent years than other perching birds that largely feed on seeds.

and
“There are many indications that what we see is the result of a widespread poisoning of our landscape,” says Leif Miller, director general of the German chapter of BirdLife International. 

A recent increase in insect monitoring efforts stems from the rise of ‘citizen science’ projects.
Yet even environmental campaigners like Miller admit that the root causes and the full dimension of the problem aren't yet fully understood. “I suspect it is a multiplicity of factors, most likely with habitat destruction, deforestation, fragmentation, urbanization, and agricultural conversion being the leading factors,” says Stanford ecologist Dirzo. 

This is a valuable article for those who care about the world's environment. Click over to read the entire piece -
http://e360.yale.edu/feature/insect_numbers_declining_why_it_matters/3012/

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