Published: Wed, February 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Insect declines and extinction warning in Biological Conservation report | Farming

Insect declines and extinction warning in Biological Conservation report | Farming

They do everything from providing food for small animals, pollinating 75 percent of the world's crops and replenishing soil, to limiting pest numbers. "The repercussions this will have for the planet's ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least, as insects are at the structural and functional base of numerous world's ecosystems since their rise at the end of the Devonian period, nearly 400 million years ago".

The analysis, the primary global assessment of its type, checked out 73 historic reviews on insect declines around the globe and located that the whole mass of all bugs on the planets is lowering by 2.5% per year.

The decline is blamed mainly on intensive agriculture.

A new report found that 40% of insect species are declining, with a third endangered, according to a global scientific review of research.

The new paper, which was published in the journal Biological Conservation, takes a broader look at overall insect populations.

"That means the elimination of all trees and shrubs that normally surround the fields, so there are plain, bare fields that are treated with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides", University of Sydney's Francisco Sánchez-Bayo told The Guardian. Sands said an immediate danger of the insect decline was the loss of insectivorous birds, and the risk of larger birds turning from eating insects to eating each other.

Insects are also being hit by biological factors, such as pathogens and introduced species, and by climate change, where rising temperatures could affect the range of places where they can live.

"Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades", the review's co-authors wrote. With many species of birds, reptiles and fish depending on insects as their main food source, it's likely that these species may also be wiped out as a result.

Insects play a profoundly important role in Earth's ecosystems.

Almost half of all insect species worldwide are in rapid decline and a third could disappear altogether, according to a study warning of dire consequences for crop pollination and natural food chains.

"It's quite plausible that we might end up with plagues of small numbers of pest insects, but we will lose all the wonderful ones that we want".

They suggested overhauling existing agricultural methods, "in particular a serious reduction in pesticide usage and its substitution with more sustainable, ecologically-based practices".

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