Invest in pollinator monitoring for long-term gain

Image of strawberries next to a free-standing hedgerow

(The Niche, pg. 10) Despite urgent need, monitoring insect pollinators, especially wild bees and hover flies, has often been considered too expensive to implement at a national scale. A research team is studying how to improve pollinator monitoring in the UK in a cost-effective manner. This research examines hidden benefits of monitoring schemes. By pooling data and expertise from a wide range of resources, the costs of schemes have been estimated to be between £5,600 ($6,900) for a small volunteer-led scheme collecting basic data and £2.8 million ($3.5 million) per year for professional monitoring of both pollinating insects and pollination to the UK’s crops. Overall, for every £1 invested in pollinator monitoring schemes, at least £1.50 can be saved from costly, independent research projects.

eDNA provides researchers with ‘more than meets the eye’

Image of woman collecting soil.

(Curtin University) Researchers from Curtin University have used next generation DNA sequencing to learn more about the different species of plants, insects and animals present in the Pilbara and Perth regions of Western Australia. As animals and organisms interact with their environment, they leave behind traces of their DNA through things like droppings, skin cells, saliva, and pollen. “This study was the first of its kind to systematically test terrestrial substrates for eDNA, and it also was the first time that some of these particular substrates were analyzed.”

Blinded by the light: How sensory pollution impacts animal survival

Image of city lights at night.

(Utah State University) A new paper provides a framework for understanding how light and noise pollution affects wildlife. The framework is the product of an effort among worldwide experts in ecology and physiology and reveals the presence of “sensory danger zones,” or areas where sensory pollutants influences animal activity. For example, artificial lights cover the glow of the moon, preventing birds or insects from detecting it. “From a conservation biology point of view, we don’t know how to mitigate the effects of sensory pollution if we don’t know what the pathway of harm is.”

How warming winters are affecting everything

Graphic of melting North America with different plants and animals.

(Michigan Radio) Winters are warming faster than other seasons across much of the United States. While that may sound like a welcome change for those bundled in scarves and hats, it’s causing a cascade of unpredictable impacts in communities across the country – impacting pollinators and the plants they’re connected with. Temperatures continue to steadily rise around the globe, but that trend isn’t spread evenly across the map or even the yearly calendar.

More scientists warn about worldwide insect decline

Image of red and black moth.

(University of Helsinki) Humanity is pushing many ecosystems beyond recovery. As a consequence, unquantified and unquantifiable insect extinctions are happening every day. Two scientific papers by 30 experts from around the world discuss both the perils and ways to avoid further extinctions, intending to contribute towards a necessary change of attitude for humanity’s own sake.

The pesticide industry’s playbook for poisoning the Earth

Illustration of a swarm of pollinators.

(The Intercept) Lobbying documents and emails obtained by The Intercept show a vast strategy by the pesticide industry to influence academics, beekeepers, and regulators, and to divert attention away from the potential harm caused by neonicotinoids. As a result, the global neonics industry generated $4.42 billion in 2018. In the meantime, the effects are being seen in massive insect die-offs. Certain insects are nearing extinction.