Global Insect Decline Now “Hyperalarming” According to Latest Research
Humans are good at reacting to crises that they can see right before their eyes, but if something isn’t recognizing as an immediate threat, we’re very good at ignoring it. For the last 8 years we have been receiving warnings about the loss of honey bees and other pollinator insects, but yet so far have been wholly unable to comprehend what this means to our future, and therefore have been unable and unwilling to react with any seriousness.
In recent years we’ve reported on this unfolding catastrophe, pointing out the bees in Europe and North America are seeing major declines along with many other critical insects. In 2013, Florida declared two butterfly species had gone extinct. German researchers in 2017 reported on a 75% reduction in the total biomass of flying insects. Massive die-offs of bees is common these days, and many point to the widespread use of insecticides and other agrichemicals as the major cause.
Insects in general are in a massive die-off today, and the results could be catastrophic for the planet. A new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences brings attention to the spread of this calamity to the Americas, noting some 60-fold losses in arthropods and other insects in the rainforests of Central America.
The loss is deeply extending into populations of frogs, birds, and many other ecologically important creatures, and the team of researchers compared insect populations in Puerto Rico today with those 40 years ago.
“We went down in ’76, ’77 expressly to measure the resources: the insects and the insectivores in the rain forest, the birds, the frogs, the lizards,” Lister said.
He came back nearly 40 years later, with his colleague Andrés García, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. What the scientists did not see on their return troubled them. “Boy, it was immediately obvious when we went into that forest,” Lister said. Fewer birds flitted overhead. The butterflies, once abundant, had all but vanished.
García and Lister once again measured the forest’s insects and other invertebrates, a group called arthropods that includes spiders and centipedes. The researchers trapped arthropods on the ground in plates covered in a sticky glue, and raised several more plates about three feet into the canopy. The researchers also swept nets over the brush hundreds of times, collecting the critters that crawled through the vegetation.
Each technique revealed the biomass (the dry weight of all the captured invertebrates) had significantly decreased from 1976 to the present day. The sweep sample biomass decreased to a fourth or an eighth of what it had been. Between January 1977 and January 2013, the catch rate in the sticky ground traps fell 60-fold.
“Everything is dropping,” Lister said. The most common invertebrates in the rain forest – the moths, the butterflies, the grasshoppers, the spiders and others – are all far less abundant.
“Holy crap,” Wagner said of the 60-fold loss. [Source]
In order to adequately address this serious crisis, we would need to address some of the major, systemic problems in our world today, such as pollution, modern chemical-based agriculture, and a changing climate. It remains to be seen whether or not we people are capable of actually taking on a problem of this magnitude.
If anything, I think their results and caveats are understated. The gravity of their findings and ramifications for other animals, especially vertebrates, is hyperalarming. ~David Wagner, an expert in invertebrate conservation at the University of Connecticut
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Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
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