'Ecological Armageddon': Warnings From Scientists as Flying Insects Disappear

20 October, 2017, 00:57 | Author: Leticia Riley
  • Entomological Society Krefeld entomologists setting up a Malaise trapENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY KREFELD

"Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services". "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought", Hallmann said in a statement. "All these areas are protected and a lot of them are well-managed nature reserves", said Caspar Hallmann at Radboud University and part of the research team, "yet, this dramatic decline has occurred".

Using insect traps placed in 63 nature protection areas, researchers recorded a 76 percent decline in bug numbers over a 27-year period.

Their findings showed that between 1989 and 2016, total flying insect biomass had fallen by 76 percent.

"This study lumps all flying insects together", she said, which gives researchers a more accurate picture of the overall decline.

"These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands", he told CNN. What makes the troubling trend even worse is that the researchers found the decline was universal across all habitats and was seemingly not affected by weather change or the type of land the insects call home. Scientists, led by Caspar Hallmann, from Radboud University, the Netherlands, used Malaise traps-tent-like structures-to assess their numbers each year.

"However", he continued, "when you get an over 75 percent decline in total insect biomass, you know this is not due to a few or vulnerable species".

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Johannes Steidle, ecologist at the University of Hohenheim further pointed to the worrying circumstance that all probes in the study were taken in nature reserves. According to Caspar Hallmann (Radboud University), who performed the statistical analyses, "All these areas are protected and majority are managed nature reserves".

Instead, they speculated that intensive agriculture and pesticide use may be to blame.

"These surrounding areas inflict flying insects and they can not survive there", said Caspar Hallmann, researcher at Radboud.

Some 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination; 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study.

Scientists say an "alarming" drop in the number of flying insects in Germany could have serious consequences for ecosystems and food chains.



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