Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies.
The insects face multiple, overlapping threats including the destruction of wild habitats for farming, urbanisation, pesticides and light pollution. Population collapses have been recorded in places where human activities dominate, such as in Germany, but there is little data from outside Europe and North America and in particular from wild, tropical regions where most insects live.
The scientists are especially concerned that the climate crisis may be causing serious damage in the tropics. But even though much more data is needed, the researchers say enough is already known for urgent action to be taken.
Insects are by far the most varied and abundant animals on Earth, with millions of species and outweighing humans by 17 times. They are essential to the ecosystems that humanity depends upon, pollinating plants, providing food for other creatures and recycling nature’s waste.
The studies show the situation is complex, with some insect populations increasing, such as those whose range is expanding as global heating curbs cold winter temperatures and others recovering from a low level as pollution in water bodies is reduced.
The good news is that the raised profile of insect declines in the past two years has prompted government action in some places, the scientists said, while a “phenomenal’’ number of citizen scientists are helping with the huge challenge of studying these tiny creatures. [Continue reading…]