Tags: hyperalarming | insect | loss | study

'Hyperalarming' Insect Loss Recorded by New Study

butterfly on a plant
A report published Monday detailed what one scientists described as a "hyberalarming" decline in insect populations around the world. (Sokoloffoto/Dreamstime.com)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 October 2018 09:42 AM

The world is experiencing a dramatic loss of insects, and experts find the latest data "hyperalarming," The Washington Post noted this week.

A number of long-term studies have found that invertebrate populations are on a fast decline, and a new report published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has again brought the topic to light.

According to the researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic University and the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the number of insects in the tropical forests of northeastern Puerto Rico have declined by as much as 60-fold, while temperatures have climbed since the mid-1970s.

The findings are based upon data gathered between 1976 and 2013 at three locations in Puerto Rico's protected Luquillo rainforest.

"Our results suggest that the effects of climate warming in tropical forests may be even greater than anticipated," said Brad Lister, lead author of the study, in a statement. "The insect populations in the Luquillo forest are crashing, and once that begins the animals that eat the insects have insufficient food, which results in decreased reproduction and survivorship and consequent declines in abundance."

The study also found that the biomass of arthropods had declined by as much as eight-fold from 1976 to 2013 along with the number of lizards, frogs, and birds that ate insects. The authors said the steady decline was due to climate change.

David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut who was not involved in the study, told The Washington Post that the study was "a real wake-up call and one of the most "disturbing articles" he had read.

"The gravity of their findings and ramifications for other animals, especially vertebrates, is hyperalarming," Wagner said.

He said a cause was unknown and pointed out that some insect declines predated climate change.

Last year, a separate study noted a sharp decline of insects in Germany.

Dave Goulson, one of the lead researchers for the study, blamed humans for the decline seen by scientists for the past 27 years, which has been accelerated by climate change, pesticides, and agricultural practices, NBC News said.

"Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services," the abstract of the study in the journal PLOS One stated. "Our understanding of the extent and underlying causes of this decline is based on the abundance of single species or taxonomic groups only, rather than changes in insect biomass which is more relevant for ecological functioning."

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A recent report details massive insect loss around the world, and one expert called the findings "hyperalarming," The Washington Post reported.
hyperalarming, insect, loss, study
Wednesday, 17 October 2018 09:42 AM
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