World News

Massive Insect Decline Could Have ‘Catastrophic’ Environmental Impact, Study Says

Massive Insect Decline Could Have ‘Catastrophic’ Environmental Impact, Study Says

They are a food source for many animals, are critical pollinators and recycle nutrients back into the soil.

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".

According to the new scientific review, habitat loss because of intensive agriculture is the top driver of insect population declines.

The paper reviewed 73 existing studies published around the world in the past 13 years and concluded that one-third of insect species are "endangered", while 40 percent could be extinct within decades.

Meanwhile, the planet is said to be undergoing its sixth mass extinction due to the "biological annihilation" of wildlife in recent decades, while the insect population collapses that have already been reported in Germany and Puerto Rico are now thought to be related to a crisis that's global. Sánchez-Bayo and co-author Kris Wyckhuys of the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing traced the beginning of the decline to the dawn of the 20th century, noting that it subsequently gathered pace in the 1950s and 1960s.

So, which insects are most in danger of disappearing first? And as Business Insidernoted, the report estimates that the insects are declining eight times as fast as mammals, birds, and reptiles.

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.

More news: Russian region declares emergency over polar bear "invasion"

"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", stated Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney and an author of the study.

The researchers found that declines in nearly all regions may lead to the extinction of 40% of insects over the next few decades.

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

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.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of wildlife charity Buglife, added: "It is gravely sobering to see this collation of evidence that demonstrates the pitiful state of the world's insect populations".

"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".


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