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Insect 'Armageddon' Signaled by Big Drop in Bug Numbers?

Insect 'Armageddon' Signaled by Big Drop in Bug Numbers?

(Bagiuiani Constantin/Dreamstime)

By    |   Friday, 20 October 2017 06:38 AM

An insect "Armageddon" could be signaled by a dramatic drop in bug numbers in Germany over more than two decades, a new study suggests.

NBC News reported that while other studies have pointed out declines in bumblebees in the United Kingdom and the monarch butterfly in the United States, this study appeared to go further, noting a sharp population decline beyond those species.

"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 PLUS 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."

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

"We face an ecological Armageddon," Goulson told NBC News. "It sounds melodramatic but it's true. We need to do something and it's urgent, it’s not something we can ponder for a few more years."

For the long-term study, researchers and entomologists set traps on nature reserves across Germany and collected data on insect populations and possible reasons for their decline, NBC News said.

"Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76 percent, and mid-summer decline of 82 percent in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study," the PLUS ONE abstract stated. "We show that this decline is apparent regardless of habitat type, while changes in weather, land use, and habitat characteristics cannot explain this overall decline."

Goulson said that the decline of insects could have a domino effect because it will have an impact on other species.

"Insects are food for most birds and fish, and bats, they're kind of central to everything," Goulson told NBC News. "This isn't something that only matters to academics in labs or butterfly collectors."

On Thursday, Robert Watson, chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, called for governments around the world to extend the protections to insects like worms, beetles and others "vital to human prosperity," Reuters reported.

"We are trying to ... put biodiversity and ecosystems on the same level – as an environmental, economic, social, security issue – as climate change," Watson told Reuters.

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An insect "Armageddon" could be signaled by a dramatic drop in bug numbers in Germany over more than two decades, a new study suggests.
insect, armageddon
Friday, 20 October 2017 06:38 AM
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