Declines in Insect Abundance and Diversity: We Know Enough to Act Now—New Paper Details Why We Need to Act to Protect Insects

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Matthew Forister, McMinn Professor of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno; (775) 784-6770, forister@gmail.com.

Scott Hoffman Black, Executive Director, The Xerces Society for invertebrate Conservation; (503) 449-3792, scott.black@xerces.org.

Emma Pelton, Conservation Biologist, The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; (503) 232-6639 ext. 102, emma.pelton@xerces.org.

Declines in Insect Abundance and Diversity: We Know Enough to Act Now

New paper details why we need to act to protect insects.

PORTLAND, Ore.; June 24, 2019—On Saturday, June 22, the journal Conservation Science and Practice published a paper that makes the case for greater action to curb the global decline in insects. Insects are vital to life as we know it on this planet. The vast majority of bats, birds, and freshwater fish depend on insects, and humans depend on insect pollination for nutritious fruits and vegetables. Insects provide services of over $57 billion to the US economy. Although we need more study to understand the overall scope and scale of the declines, the research that has been done provides compelling evidence of declines in insect abundance, diversity, and biomass.

“There is no doubt that a great many insect populations and species are suffering and are in some form of decline,” said Matt Forister, McMinn Professor of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno. “Although there is a need for greater investment in basic science and further analyses of existing data, our belief is that the severity of reported insect declines is sufficient to warrant immediate action.”

In addition to the data supporting the decline of insect populations, patterns are emerging that point to the primary drivers of insect declines. The most influential factors are habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change, although other factors include disease, invasive species, and light pollution.

“There are many factors leading to the decline in insects,” said Emma Pelton, endangered species conservation biologist and western monarch lead for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. “Even though there are still unknowns, taking action to restore, enhance, and protect habitat and curbing pesticides has been shown to help insect populations.”

The paper not only presents the problem, but also provides examples of success stories in insect conservation, from both terrestrial and aquatic environments spanning three continents. The authors also propose actions that can be taken to address insect declines, which can be implemented by various societal sectors including nations, states, provinces and cities, working lands, natural areas, and homes and gardens.

“If we hope to stem the losses of insect diversity and the services they provide, society must take steps at all levels to protect, restore, and enhance habitat for insects across landscapes—from wildlands to farmland to urban cores,” said Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society. “But there is hope because everyone can make a difference. Farmers can add additional habitat and curb pesticide use, governments can make climate adaptation a goal, and even a backyard or apartment balcony can be an important stopover for the smallest of animals upon which we all depend.”

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READ THE ARTICLE: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/csp2.80

About the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

The Xerces Society is an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world by conserving invertebrates and their habitat. Established in 1971, the Society is a trusted source for science-based information and advice and plays a leading role in promoting the conservation of pollinators and many other invertebrates. We collaborate with people and institutions at all levels, and our work to protect bees, butterflies, and other pollinators encompasses all landscapes. Our team draws together experts from the fields of habitat restoration, entomology, plant ecology, education, farming, and conservation biology with a single passion: Protecting the life that sustains us.

To learn more about our work, please visit www.xerces.org or follow @xercessociety on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

University of Nevada, Reno

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno ranks in the top tier of best national universities by U.S. News and World Report and is steadily growing in enrollment, excellence, and reputation. The University serves more than 21,000 students. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University is home to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Wolf Pack Athletics. Through a commitment to world-improving research, student success, and outreach benefiting the communities and businesses of Nevada, the University has impact across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.