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Some insects are declining, while others may be breeding

Different groups of insects, such as beetles and butterflies, show similar abundant tendencies in some places, but may show different tendencies in others. The photo shows the longhorn beetle (Leptura quadrifasciata) and the red maple (Araschnia levana). Credit: Oliver Thier

Observations of changes in populations of a group of insects (eg grasshoppers) make little talk of how other types of insects, such as flies, behave, even in the same location. This is because different groups of insects can show similar tendencies in one place, but different tendencies in other places. These are the results of new meta-studies that systematically investigate long-term data on insects from more than 900 locations around the world.Research published in Biology letterWas led by a team of researchers from the German Center for Integrated Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Martin-Luther University Hallewittenberg (MLU), Friedrichschiller University Jena, and Helmholtz Environmental Research Center (UFZ). It emphasizes the importance of simultaneously monitoring multiple groups of species in order to provide conservation policy guidelines.


Decrease Number of insects It became part of a global conversation in 2017 when scientists reported the loss of three-quarters of insect biomass flying from West Germany’s nature reserves for over 30 years. This made people realize that they didn’t have as many bugs as they used to. Since then, an explosive increase in research from around the world has emerged, often showing great decline, prompting hundreds of popular articles on the issue of insect decline.

Since 2018, a group of scientists led by iDiv, MLU, University of Jena, and UFZ has built and analyzed a database of studies around the world that have monitored the number of insect groups for several years. This group is led by Dr. Roel van Klink, a postdoctoral fellow at iDiv and MLU. “The fact that such a decline happened just below our nose, but the fact that no one saw this phenomenon happening in many places is very alarming.” Says Van Clink. “It shows how important it is to monitor our environment.”

However, due to the small size and variety of insects, it is difficult to monitor them.There are 30,000 people in Germany alone Race an insect’s. Second author, Dr. Diana Bowler, adds: monitoring The program studies only one insect group, but no one is investigating whether the condition of the group under study tells us anything about the well-being of other insects. Bowler is a postdoctoral fellow at iDiv, University of Jena, UFZ.

Some insects are declining, while others may be breeding

Insects are monitored to provide information about the health of the ecosystem. They also play an important role in the ecosystem. For example, this Cetoniinae blooms wild flowers. Credit: Oliver Thier

In their latest publication, van Klink et al. Wanted to know if changes in one type of insect could predict changes in another type of insect. For example, if a butterfly declines, does that mean that beetles, flies, and bees also decline? If changes in one group of species can predict changes in another group, they can be used as indicators. This is convenient because you don’t have to monitor all insect species. If this is the case, it will give scientists and policy makers an easy way to make conclusions and recommendations for all insects using information from one group of insects.

But van Klink et al. Indicator species In their analysis. The abundance of different groups of species showed different trends. “The tendencies of beetles and butterflies are most similar and often increased or decreased together, but even their relationship was very poor,” says Van Klink. “But grasshoppers are just doing their own thing and have that abundance over time, unrelated to groups of other species,” he adds.

Overall, the results of this survey highlight what the team has said over the years. “Insects are not of the same species, and as some headings believe, they all show dramatic declines around the world,” said iDiv and MLU, head of the research group and senior author of the study. Said Professor Jonathan Chase.

“Nature isn’t as simple as we want,” adds Van Clink. “There is no doubt that humans have an unprecedented impact on the natural world around us. It is our ability to know exactly how, why, where and what kind of insects these changes occur in. It’s my job, “he continues.

Scientists hope that their work will monitor changes in the abundance of a wide range of insect populations over time and emphasize the need for a better understanding.

“You can’t simply monitor one group of insects and assume that all the other groups do the same,” says Diana Bowler. “We need to pay attention to the entire variety of insects.”


Common pesticides associated with extreme reduction of freshwater insects


For more information:
Roel van Klink et al, long-term abundance trends in insect taxa are only slightly correlated. Biology letter (2022). DOI: 10.1098 / rsbl.2021.0554

Provided by Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Center for Integrated Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Germany

Quote: Some insects are declining, while others may be breeding (February 22, 2022).

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Some insects are declining, while others may be breeding

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