Rapidly declining insect populations spell 'catastrophic' trouble, scientists warn

Lester Mason
February 12, 2019

"From our compilation of published scientific reports, we estimate the current proportion of insect species in decline (41 per cent) to be twice as high as that of vertebrates, and the pace of local species extinction (10 per cent) eight times higher, confirming previous findings", they wrote.

The biologists conducted a systematic review of 73 historic reports of insect declines across the world.

The review, which looked at 73 studies conducted around the world, claimed that more than 40 per cent of insect species are now declining, adding that the rate of extinction is about eight times faster than the respective rate for birds, mammals and reptiles.

According to the study's authors, insects have served as the "structural and functional base of numerous world's ecosystems since their rise. nearly 400 million years ago".

An overhaul of the agricultural industry is "urgently needed" to "allow the recovery of declining insect populations and safeguard the vital ecosystem services they provide", wrote co-authors from Sydney and Queensland universities.


Scientists believe that intensive agriculture and the heavy use of pesticides are the main drivers of the massive insect loss which may finally lead to many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects starving to death. Matt Shardlow, the Chief Executive of Buglife, told BBC Radio 4's World at One about the consequences of an insect extinction.

"Thirdly, we have biological factors, such as invasive species and pathogens; and fourthly, we have climate change, particularly in tropical areas where it is known to have a big impact".

'The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least'.

It added dwindling insect populations were further evidence of a sixth mass extinction under way among animal and plant species worldwide.

"It is very rapid".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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