Decline of insects could cause natural catastrophe, study warns

Decline of insects could cause natural catastrophe, study warns

Ultimately, if huge numbers of insects disappear, they will be replaced but it will take a long, long time.

They also pointed to the growing use of pollutants, mainly synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, as well as the impact of invasive species and climate change.

The report, published by Elsevier's journal Biological Conservation and circulated by ScienceDirect.com, asserts that the "biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide".

The biggest driver of the decline, according to the review, is habitat loss due to urbanization and agriculture.

If insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind'.

Other factors such as pathogens, introduced species, and climate change are also some of the key factors that threaten insect populations.

The total volume of insects in the world is decreasing by 2.5% a year, a rate that indicates widespread extinctions within a century, the report found.

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The new report looked at dozens of existing studies on insect decline published over the past three decades, and examined the reasons behind the falling numbers. Sánchez-Bayo told the Guardian: "It is very rapid".

As the Australian researcher Francisco Sánchez-Bayo told the newspaper: "If insect species losses can not be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet's ecosystems and for the survival of mankind".

While we have focused on the decline of vertebrates, this study shows the interconnection of insects with all ecosystems and the food chain.

It goes without saying that insects are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems, with respect to their roles as pollinators, recyclers of nutrients, as well as being the main source of food for other species, including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. There are 17 times more insects around the world than humans, according to another study.

There is also ample evidence of declines in temperate regions driven by a combination of climate change and habitat fragmentation.

"It is becoming increasingly obvious our planet's ecology is breaking and there is a need for an intense and global effort to halt and reverse these terrible trends - allowing the slow eradication of insect life to continue is not a rational option". Based on the findings of the report, Statista has drawn up this handy - and, frankly, worrying - infographic of insects and their percentage decline over the past decade.

The in-depth research found that one third of insect species are already classed as endangered, with 40 percent in nearly all regions around the world expected to face extinction over the next few decades.

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