Insects could be wiped out within a century - scientists

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"So we still need the bees and the other insects to come along and pollinate them". Additionally, when insects die, they return nutrients to the earth; insects are at the bottom of the food chain, with many small animals relying on insects as food; and some insects help with pest control, according to a National Geographicinterview with author David MacNeal.

MORE: Pesticide ban could threaten viability of East Anglia's sugar beet industry, farmers told The review, published in the journal Biological Conservation, looked at 73 historical reports on insects from around the world, including studies in the United Kingdom, and found insects ranging from butterflies and bees to dung beetles were among the most affected.

A combination of rapid urbanisation, the onset of climate change and the intensive use of pesticides in mass agriculture is contributing to one of the greatest mass extinctions of recent years, according to a report published to the journal Biological Conservation.

The in-depth research found that one third of insect species are already classed as endangered, with 40 percent in nearly all regions around the world expected to face extinction over the next few decades.

The report, co-authored by scientists from the universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, looked at dozens of existing reports on insect decline published over the past three decades, and examined the reasons behind the falling numbers to produce the alarming global picture.

Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian the stakes were seriously high.

A leading Norfolk farming conservationist said farmers were already at the forefront of finding ways to reverse the decline of insects and wildlife - but all parts of society needed to work together to find solutions rather than "naming and shaming" individual sectors.

The sobering message has emerged from a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports on insect population declines which found the rate of extinction is eight times faster than vertebrates such as mammals, birds and reptiles. Of the insects that remain, 41pc are in decline.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive of wildlife charity Buglife, said: "It's not just about bees, or even about pollination and feeding ourselves, the declines also include dung beetles that recycle waste and insects like dragonflies that start life in rivers and ponds". Pollution, particularly the heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers, is also a major contributor to the dwindling number of insects around the world. "The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic, to say the least". Also, climate change plays an important role.

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