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Study warns that a sudden decline in insect numbers could have catastrophic consequences



More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the report published in the journal "Biological Conservation" "Worldwide Decompression of the Entomofauna: An Overview of their Drivers".

The insect biomass decreases by an impressive 2.5% per year, a rate suggesting widespread extinction within a century.

In addition to the 40% that are threatened with extinction, one-third of species are endangered – numbers that could cause the planet's ecosystems to collapse with devastating effects on life on Earth.

Co-authored by scientists from the Universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the report examined dozens of reports of the decline in insects released over the past three decades and examined the reasons for the decline in numbers alarmingly create global image.

His principal author Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney called the study the first truly global study of the problem.

While the focus in the past has been on the decline in vertebrate biodiversity, this study highlighted the importance of insect life for the interconnected ecosystems and food web. Bugs make up about 70% of all animal species.

  A bumblebee lands on a flower, while workers of the conservation association inspect a Berlin city garden in Berlin.

The consequences of extinction of insects would be "catastrophic to say the least", according to the report, since insects have been the structural and functional basis of many of the world's ecosystems since their rise nearly 400 million years ago. "

The main causes of decline included" habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization, "pollution, particularly from pesticides and fertilizers, biological factors such as" pathogens and introduced species "and climate change.

While a variety of special insects, the As a group of adaptive insects increased the number of animals increased – but by no means close enough to stop the decline, the report noted.

  A light aircraft sprayed Pesticides on a hill in the Negev desert near the Egyptian border.

Small creatures that rule the world

Don Sands, an entomologist and former scientist of the Commonwealt h research for science and industry, said he "totally" agrees that the "bottom-up" effects of insecticide are serious.

"If we do not have insects as moderators of other pest populations, we have insect populations that thrive and destroy harvests and make growing difficult," he said.

He added that the ecosystem at this level "must be in balance, it is the lowest layer, and if we do not deal with it, our whole life could be immeasurably influenced."

"(insects are) the little creatures that rule the world," he said.

Reports of insect decline is not new: researchers have warned for years of the phenomenon and its effects.

A study found last year that flying insect populations in German nature reserves have decreased by more than 75% over the course of a 27-year study, meaning that the kill happens in advance beyond the areas affected by human activity.

"These are not agricultural areas, these are biodiversity-preserving sites, but we still see insects getting out of our hands," said co-author of the report, Caspar Hallman.

Birds Eat Birds

Species that rely on insects as a food source, and the predators in the food chain that eat these species, would likely suffer from them. The pollination of crops as well as wild plants would be affected as well as the nutrient cycle in the soil.

In fact, "US wildlife ecosystem services have been estimated at US $ 57 billion annually," according to a previous study.

Approximately 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination, while 60% of birds rely on insects as food source, the study said. Sands said that an immediate threat of insect decay is the loss of insect-eating birds and the danger that larger birds eat insects to eat each other.

In his native Australia, "birds no longer have insect food," he said, adding that this is likely to be a global phenomenon.

  Bees swarm in the sky as Palestinian workers remove frames from beehives to collect honeycombs in the Gaza Strip.

Radical action required

The authors of the report called for radical and immediate action.

"Because insects are the world's most abundant and diverse animal group and provide critical services within ecosystems, such events can not be ignored and should trigger decisive action to avert a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems," they wrote.

They proposed to revise existing agricultural practices, "in particular a significant reduction in pesticide use and its substitution through more sustainable, environmentally-oriented practices".

"The conclusion is clear: if we do not change our way of producing food, insects as a whole will find their way to extinction in a few decades," they concluded.


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