Germany has less flying insects than 27 years ago

Entomological Society Krefeld entomologists setting up a Malaise trapENTOMOLOGICAL SOCIETY KREFELD

The study provides that 60% of birds need insects for food and almost 80% of plant life relies on them for pollination. And after 27 years, in mid-summer, the decline was 82 percent.

"This analysis is a good first cut of the data and I suspect, with further analyses, [the authors] can understand which of the species are decreasing because most certainly, it is not a 76-percent decrease of all of the species", says Krupke.

"Since 1989, in 63 nature reserves in Germany the total biomass of flying insects has decreased by more than 75 percent", says lead author Caspar Hallmann from Radboud University in the Netherlands.

But this study suggests a sharper decline than previously thought.

The meticulous sampling of flying insects over so many sites and so many years yielded a dataset that is unique in the world, de Kroon told Seeker.

"If total flying insect biomass is genuinely declining at this rate [about 6% per year], it is extremely concerning", she said.

Researchers at the Krefeld Entomological Society in western Germany have calculated the mass of flying insects from dozens of nature reserves and their latest set of figures show a seasonal decline of 76 per cent across all seasons.

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"Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth", Dave Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom and a co-author of the new study, said in a statement.

Most of the 63 nature preserves in the study are surrounded by agricultural lands.

"There is an urgent need to uncover the causes of this decline", the study said, "its geographical extent, and to understand the ramifications of the decline for ecosystems and ecosystem services". Changes in the weather, landscape and plant variety in these areas are unable to explain this.

The finding was even more worrying given that it was happening in nature reserves, which are meant to protect insects and other living species, the researchers said. A study published earlier this month revealed researchers found neonicotinoid pesticides-which have been linked to bee harm and broader ecological damage-in the majority of honey samples collected from around the world.

While no single cause was identified, the widespread destruction of wild areas for agriculture and the use of pesticides are considered likely factors.

"As entire ecosystems are dependent on insects for food and as pollinators, it places the decline of insect eating birds and mammals in a new context", said researcher Hans de Kroon.

"But exactly what is causing their death is open to debate".

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