Insect populations are dropping everywhere because of the use of pesticides and other factors, with a potentially catastrophic effect on…
Insect populations are dropping everywhere because of the use of pesticides and other factors, with a potentially catastrophic effect on the planet, a study has warned.
More than 40% of the insect species could be eradicated over the next decades, according to the global decline in entomofauna: A review of its driver’s report published in the journal Biological Conservation
Insect biomass decreases with a staggering 2.5 % per year, a rate indicating widespread extinction within a century, the report found.
In addition to the 40% at risk of dying out, one-third of the species are threatened – numbers that can cause the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem with a devastating impact on Life on Earth
The report, co-author of researchers from the universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, looked at dozens of existing insect fall reports published over the past three decades, and investigated the causes of the falling numbers to produce the alarming global image.
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Its leading author, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney, called the study the first real global survey of the issue.
While the focus of the past has been on the decline in the biodiversity of vertebrates, this study emphasized the importance of insect life on interconnected ecosystems and the food chain. Bugs account for about 70% of all animal species.
The impact of the insect will be “catastrophic to say the least”, the report said, as insects have been on “the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems since their inception … nearly 400 million years ago.”
The decline included “food loss and transformation into intensive agriculture and urbanization,” pollutants, especially from pesticides and fertilizers, as well as biological factors such as “pathogens and introduced species” and climate change.
While a large number of special insects that fill a specific organic niche and general insects fell, a small group of adaptable insects saw their numbers rise – but nowhere near enough to seize the decline, the report was found.
Don Sands, an entomologist and retired Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organizer, said he completely agreed that the “bottom-up” effects of insect loss were serious.
“If we don’t have insects as moderators of other pest populations, we have insect populations that flare up and destroy crops and make them difficult to grow,” he said.
He added that the ecosystem at this level has “to be in balance. It is the bottom layer, and if we do not address it, all our lives can be immensely affected.
” (Insects are) the little creatures that drive the world ” , he said.
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Reports of fall insect are not new: researchers have warned of the phenomenon and its impact for years.
Last year, a study found that flying insect populations in German nature reserves decreased by more than 75% during a 27-year study, which means that killing also takes place outside areas affected by human activity.
“This is not the agricultural area, these are places that are intended to preserve biodiversity, but we still see that the insects are slipping out of our hands,” said report co-author Caspar Hallman.
Species that depend on insects such as food source – and predators higher up the food chain that eat these species – are likely to suffer from these declines, according to the researchers. The determination of both crops and wild plants would also be affected, along with the nutrient cycle in the soil.
In fact, “ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $ 57 billion annually in the United States,” according to a previous study.
Some 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination while 60% of the birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study. Sands said an immediate danger to the insect fall was the loss of insect-living birds and the risk of larger birds turning from eating insects to eating each other.
In his native Australia, “birds that run out of insect food turn around,” he said, adding that this is likely to be a global phenomenon.
The report’s authors demanded radical and immediate action.
“Because insects make up the world’s most comprehensive and diverse group and provide critical services within the ecosystems, such events cannot be ignored and should lead to decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of the ecosystem of nature,” they wrote.
They suggested reviewing existing agricultural practices, “especially a serious reduction in pesticide use and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically based methods.”
“The conclusion is clear: if we do not change our ways of producing insects as a whole will go down to the eradication path in a few decades, “they concluded.