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Massive insect decline could have 'catastrophic' environmental impact, study says

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Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned.



More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the "Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers" report, published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Insect biomass is declining by a staggering 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found.

In addition to the 40% at risk of dying out, a third of species are endangered -- numbers that could cause the collapse of the planet's ecosystems with a devastating impact on life on Earth.



Species that rely on insects as their food source -- and the predators higher up the food chain which eat those species -- were likely to suffer from these declines, according to the scientists. The pollination of both crops and wild plants would also be affected, along with nutrient cycling in the soil.



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. Bugs make up around 70% of all animal species.



Reports of insect decline are not new: researchers have been warning of the phenomenon and its impact for years.

Last year, one study found that flying insect populations in German nature reserves declined by more than 75% over the duration of a 27-year study, meaning that the die-off is happening even beyond areas affected by human activity.

"These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands," said that report's co-author, Caspar Hallman.



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2 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

With our luck the last three will be horseflies, misquitos, and ticks.


I'm actually entertaining the idea that this could be an easier problem to fix than it is to exacerbate.

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