Scientists decry ‘ignorance’ of rolling back species protections in the midst of a mass extinction

Map of the United States.

(Washington Post) In North America alone, at least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct. In the past 500 years, humans have wiped out nearly 2 1/2 percent of amphibian species, 2 percent of mammals and birds, and about 1 percent of reptiles and fish. At a geological scale that’s a stunning rate of extinction in a vanishingly brief period of time. However, the full list of the fallen is composed primarily of mollusks, insects and other more obscure organisms – and it is egregiously incomplete. “We’re obliterating landscapes before we’ve even had a chance to catalogue the species that lived there.”

Declines in insect abundance and diversity: We know enough to act now

Image of wildflowers in prairies strips.

(Conservation Science and Practice) “The scientific community has understandably been focused on establishing the breadth and depth of the phenomenon and on documenting factors causing insect declines. In parallel with ongoing research, it is now time for the development of a policy consensus that will allow for a swift societal response… To these ends, we suggest primary policy goals summarized at scales from nations to farms to homes.”

Honey bees hit by Trump budget cuts

Image of honey bee with mite on its back.

(CNN) It is at least the third bee-related dataset to be suspended under the current administration. The Cost of Pollination survey and the Honey survey have also been suspended or scaled back in the last year. “Understanding what’s going on with honey bees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”

Insects, imperfect knowledge, and the imperative of action

Image of insect collection.

(Anthropocene) There indeed seem to be many fewer bugs than there used to be – but precisely how few, and for what reasons, is still a matter of some debate. Of the species that have been reviewed, though, some 40 percent are considered threatened. These include more than one-quarter of North American and European bumblebee species. “Acting with imperfect knowledge is something that we do all of the time, in our personal and professional lives. It is a rational response to reductions in insect abundance and diversity.”

Disappearing bumble bee species under threat of extinction

Image of American bumble bee on flower.

(York University) “This species is at risk of extinction and it’s currently not protected in any way despite the drastic decline.” The research team used data from three sources: citizen science data from Bumble Bee Watch, the Bumble Bees of North America database with records dating back to the late-1800s, and their own field work.