Insects are going extinct in DROVES: Study finds almost half of all species died out in the last decade – and humans are to blame

  • Study investigated one million insect species in grassland and forest sites
  • Found that one-third had decreased in grasslands and 40% in forests 
  • Loss in grasslands is due to intense farming and experts call for better policies 

A new survey has revealed that insect species are disappearing in droves – and humans are to blame.

Researchers found that approximately one-third has vanished over the past decade and 2,700 are on the road to extinction. 

The study determined the the alarming loss was found mainly in intensively farmed land, leading experts to call for policies that address better land-use practices. 

A new survey has revealed that insect species are disappearing in droves - and humans are to blame. Researchers found that approximately one-third has vanished over the past decade and 2,700 are on the road to extinction (Pictured is a spotted longhorn beetle)

A new survey has revealed that insect species are disappearing in droves – and humans are to blame. Researchers found that approximately one-third has vanished over the past decade and 2,700 are on the road to extinction (Pictured is a spotted longhorn beetle) 

Insects, which comprise two thirds of all species on Earth, are under attack and an international team of scientists led by the Technical University of Munich have set out to investigate just how many species are being affected.

Various studies have investigated the decline in the past, but Dr. Sebastian Seibold, a scientist with the Terrestrial Ecology Research Group at TUM, said ‘Previous studies, however, either focused exclusively on biomass, i.e. the total weight of all insects, or on individual species or species groups. The fact that a large part of all insect groups is actually affected has not been clear so far.’

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For this survey, the team gathered a massive biodiversity sample of more than 1 million insects from 150 grassland and 140 forest sites between 2008 and 2017.

The team was shocked to find that several rare species could not be found at all in some of the test sites.

It was determined that the total biomass of insects in the forests studied had declined by about 40 percent since 2008

It was determined that the total biomass of insects in the forests studied had declined by about 40 percent since 2008

It was determined that the total biomass of insects in the forests studied had declined by about 40 percent since 2008.

However, the results of the grasslands ‘were even more alarming’, according to the researchers, as the insect biomass had decreased to only one third of its previous level.

All types of forests and grasslands were affected: pastures for sheep, meadows that have been mowed at fertilized at least three times a year, commercial coniferous forests and even unmanaged forests in protected areas. 

The researchers found the greatest decline in grassland areas, in particular, those which are surrounded by. The insect species that suffered most were those that were unable to cover large distances.

In the forested areas, by contrast, the hardest-hit insect groups were those that cover long distances (pictured is a musk beetle)

In the forested areas, by contrast, the hardest-hit insect groups were those that cover long distances (pictured is a musk beetle)

However, the results of the grasslands 'were even more alarming', according to the researchers, as the insect biomass had decreased to only one third of its previous level

However, the results of the grasslands ‘were even more alarming’, according to the researchers, as the insect biomass had decreased to only one third of its previous level

In the forested areas, by contrast, the hardest-hit insect groups were those that cover long distances. 

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Former TUM researcher Dr. Martin Gossner.’To decide whether it is a matter of the more mobile forest-dwelling species having more contact with agriculture, or whether it has something to do with living conditions in the forests, further study will be needed,’ said the former TUM researcher Dr. Martin Gossner.

‘Current initiatives to address insect losses are overly concerned with the cultivation of individual plots of land and operate independently of one another for the most part,’ says Dr. Seibold. ‘To stop the decline, however, our results indicate that more coordination is needed at the regional and national levels.’

 



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