Published: Wed, February 13, 2019

Widespread loss of insect could cause nature's 'collapse'

Widespread loss of insect could cause nature's 'collapse'

They found that there are 41% of insects that are in decline, while 31% of insect species have encountered threatening declination, according to the numbers set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

When they're scurrying across your picnic blanket, stinging a crying child, or sucking your blood, insects may not be your favorite animal.

The warning was issued in a global review of insect declines, in which the authors called for a dramatic rethinking of agricultural practices and better strategies for cleaning polluted waters.

A recent review of scientific studies found that nearly half of the total insect species are experiencing a steep decline in population and a third are already extinct.

Because of the importance of insects to natural systems and other wildlife, "such events can not be ignored and should prompt decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems", the scientists warned.

Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney said, 'If insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind. The entire family of insects is slowly falling by 2.5% a year, according to some studies. Other factors such as pathogens, introduced species, and climate change are also some of the key factors that threaten insect populations.

"It is very rapid".

They found evidence for decline in all insect groups reviewed, but said it was most pronounced for butterflies and moths, native bees, beetles and aquatic insects such as dragonflies.

Declines were not just hitting specialist species, for example those which rely on a particular host plant or only live in specific habitats, but also much more "generalist" species.

"Second is the increasing use of fertilisers and pesticides in agriculture worldwide and contamination with chemical pollutants of all kinds", he said.

While the focus in the past has been on the decline in vertebrate animal biodiversity, this study stressed the importance of insect life on interconnected ecosystems and the food chain.

Researchers say the world must change the way it produces food, noting that organic crops had more insects, and refrain from overusing pesticides.

Sanchez-Bayo also cautioned that "if this food source is taken away", it may lead to many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects ultimately starving to death.

Next was pollution and the widespread use of pesticides in commercial agriculture.

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