Insect decline more extensive than suspected

Image of farmland.

(Technical University of Munich) Researchers collected more than one million insects at 300 sites. They were able to prove that many of the nearly 2,700 investigated species are in decline. In recent years, certain rare species could no longer be found in some of the regions studied. Both in forested areas and grasslands, the scientists counted about one third fewer insect species after 10 years.

Robust evidence of declines in insect abundance and biodiversity

Image of meadow plant bug on leaf.

(Nature) Rumors of insect declines have been around for some time. However, much of this evidence has come from biodiversity databases — records of species sightings, mostly collected by volunteers, and usually gathered in a haphazard fashion. Seibold and colleagues finally fill the gap by reporting species richness, abundance and biomass for a wide range of arthropod taxa recorded using standardized sampling. The results show clear evidence of substantial declines in arthropod abundance and biodiversity.

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.”