Scientists shocked by 75 percent decline in flying insect numbers

Credit Pixabay

Credit Pixabay

This sharp drop, as the researchers note, may lead to the collapse of all ecosystems, it has affected not only the various predatory and parasitic insects, and pollinators. "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought", Hallmann said in a statement.

"The fact that flying insects are decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery", said project leader Hans de Kroon, also from Radboud University.

The research was based on the work of amateur scientists in Germany, who have been catching insects in tent-like traps since 1989 on nature reserves.

The is worrisome because the study took place in protected areas, indicating the decline of flying insect populations in other areas, such as agricultural or urban areas, could be more prominent, Latty noted.

Countless insects living in every corner of the world, prevents to conduct such calculations directly, so scientists conducting them, installing special traps in the national parks and counting the number of insects that fall in them for a certain period of time.

Researchers say weather variability can explain some swings in the numbers of insects, but changes in vegetation and climate alone can't explain the severity of the broad decline.

"If you see these sort of dramatic declines in protected areas it makes me worry that this (trend) could be everywhere", she said.

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They tracked the rapid decline across 96 unique location-year combinations in Germany, which is "representative of Western European low-altitude nature protection areas embedded in a human-dominated landscape", as they wrote in the peer-reviewed study, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

At 82 percent, the decline of insects biomass during midsummer, when insects populations tend to peak, proved more severe than the annual average decline.

Most of the 63 nature preserves in the study are surrounded by agricultural lands.

While no single cause was identified, the widespread destruction of wild areas for agriculture and the use of pesticides are considered likely factors.

"They're food for umpteen other organisms so, if we lose the insects, we'd lose of our birds".

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

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