Study: Massive insect decline could have 'catastrophic' impact on environment Wraltechwire.com - Mon 11 Feb 13:45 GMT
Insect populations are declining precipitously worldwide due to pesticide use and other factors, with a potentially "catastrophic" effect on the planet, a study has warned.
More than 40% of insect species could become extinct in the next few decades, according to the “Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers” report, published in the journal Biological Conservation.
The report, co-authored by scientists from the universities of Sydney and Queensland and the China Academy of Agricultural Sciences, looked at dozens of existing reports on insect decline published over the past three decades, and examined the reasons behind the falling numbers to produce the alarming global picture.
While the focus in the past has been on the decline in vertebrate animal biodiversity, this study stressed the importance of insect life on interconnected ecosystems and the food chain.
The repercussions of insect extinction would be “catastrophic to say the least,” according to the report, as insects have been at “the structural and functional base of many of the world’s ecosystems since their rise … almost 400 million years ago.”
Some 80% of wild plants use insects for pollination while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study.