Flying Insect Populations Have Dramatically Declined, New Study Says

Flying Insect Populations Have Dramatically Declined, New Study Says

Caspar Hallmann of Radboud University said that the areas in which samples were collected were protected nature reserves and yet the numbers have dropped dramatically.

Researchers have been tracking insect abundance in German nature preserves for 27 years using Malaise traps, mesh tents that trap insects inside and lead them toward collection bottles of alcohol.

Although much attention has been paid to the decline of bees and butterflies, the latest findings suggest a problem with a much wider scope.

"However", he continued, "when you get an over 75 percent decline in total insect biomass, you know this is not due to a few or vulnerable species".

An estimated 80% of wild plants species are pollinated by insects, and more than half of birds rely on insects as a food sources, according to the study. Researchers said in order to try and neutralize the issue, there should be less pesticide usage and there should be an extension of protected nature reserves.

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"As entire ecosystems are dependent on insects for food and as pollinators, it places the decline of insect eating birds and mammals in a new context", said researcher Hans de Kroon. "The big surprise is that it is also happening in adjacent nature reserves".

Hallmann chose to study flying insects because this population represents the 90 percent of the 33,000 total insects within Germany. He hopes it's better, but he doesn't doubt that it could be the same for them. He thinks that neighbooring zones could also face a similar situation because flying insect species travel long distances, going across country borders and oceans. The study reveals a 76 percent seasonal decline, and an 82 percent mid-summer drop in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study. On their observations, the researchers reported in the journal PLoS One.

A researcher who is unconnected to the study, Lynn Dicks from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told the BBC that the study provides new evidence for "an alarming decline" that many entomologists have suspected for some time. In order to minimize the impact on flying insect communities, the team did not investigate each location annually. "The research areas are mostly small and enclosed by agricultural areas".

Countless insects living in every corner of the world, prevents to conduct such calculations directly, so scientists conducting them, installing special traps in the national parks and counting the number of insects that fall in them for a certain period of time.

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