What happened to all the bugs? Insect population is down by 45 percent in just 35 years
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/25/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
We rarely think of insects as being little more than everyday pests. Flies interrupting a breezy day, ant invading a picnic, crickets disrupting the quiet of an early evening. There are less bugs to worry about these days -- and scientists say this is good reason for alarm.
We rarely think of insects as being little more than everyday pests. Flies interrupting a breezy day, ant invading a picnic, crickets disrupting the quiet of an early evening.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to new statistics, the world's population of insects has fallen by nearly half. Which is very bad news for humanity and the world's delicate ecosystem.
As published in a recent edition of Science, the number of slugs, spiders, worms and other invertebrates has fallen by 45 percent over the past 35 years. This came at a time when the human population has doubled.
Whatever will feel about them, insects play a vital role in pollinating crops, pest control, decomposition and ensuring soil remains packed with nutrients, as well as water filtration.
The decline in invertebrates is believed to be linked to the loss of their habitats and climate change.
In the United Kingdom alone, the number of beetles, butterflies, bees and wasps has fallen by up to 60 percent. Experts warn that fewer insects would have a huge effect on crop production as up to 75 percent are pollinated by insects, amounting to around 10 percent of the world's food supply.
Scientists also fear that a drop in the insect population could also spark a decline in birds, which prey on pests that damage crops, and amphibians, which help keep water supplies free from algae.
Less insects also compromise food production due to reduced pollination, seed dispersal and insect predation.
But the impact the continuing loss of animals, including invertebrates, has on the spread of human disease needs to be better understood as a priority, experts claim.
"We were shocked to find similar losses in invertebrates as with larger animals, as we previously thought invertebrates to be more resilient," Dr. Ben Collen, from University College London's Biosciences Department, said.
"While we don't fully understand what the long-term impact of these declining numbers will be, we are currently in the potentially dangerous position of losing integral parts of ecosystems without knowing what roles they play within it.
"Prevention of further declines will require us to better understand what species are winning and losing in the fight for survival and from studying the winners, apply what we learn to improve conservation projects.
"We also need to develop predictive tools for modelling the impact of changes to the ecosystem so we can prioritize conservation efforts, working with governments globally to create supportive policy to reverse the worrying trends we are seeing," Collen says.
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