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Insect decline prompts new 'eco church' plea

21 October 2017

The study provides that 60% of birds need insects for food and almost 80% of plant life relies on them for pollination.

After analyzing the results, they found that flying insect biomass had decreased by 76 percent and up to 82 percent in the summers during the time of the study. "This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought".

Hans de Kroon of Radboud University in the Netherlands, who supervised the research, suggested reducing the use of pesticides, expanding nature reserves and developing good monitoring programs as ways to exercise "the utmost caution" in an effort to protect insect populations. "Most previous studies have reported biomass declines of less than 50 percent which is disconcerting". This discovery is notable to scientists because it views flying insects as a whole group.

While it is well documented that butterflies and bees have been disappearing in Europe and North America, the study in PLOS ONE is the first to document that flying insects in general have decreased by more than three-quarters across Germany since 1989.

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Malaise traps are tents used to capture over a thousand of samples of flying insects.

The is worrisome because the study took place in protected areas, indicating the decline of flying insect populations in other areas, such as agricultural or urban areas, could be more prominent, Latty noted.

Professor Dave Goulson at the University of Sussex, one of the co-authors of the report, said: "Insects make up about two thirds of all life on Earth".

The researchers discovered an average decline of 76 percent in the total insect mass.

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A researcher who is unconnected to the study, Lynn Dicks from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, told the BBC that the study provides new evidence for "an alarming decline" that many entomologists have suspected for some time. Weather and climatic changes seemed to have little bearing on the figures.

For Nocera, one follow up study would be to assess the trend in forests and wetland areas, which are among the most productive areas for insect populations.

All of the natural preserves are lowlands regions, islands amid agricultural lands and human-populated areas.

Researchers are concerned because insects are important pollinators and also a key part of the food chain, serving as meals for birds and other small creatures.

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"But exactly what is causing their death is open to debate". We need to do less of the things that we know have a negative impact, such as the use of pesticides and prevent the disappearance of farmland borders full of flowers.

Insect decline prompts new 'eco church' plea