Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

Germany’s insects continue ‘dramatic’ decline

Germany’s insects continue ‘dramatic’ decline
19 Oct
2017
Nature reserves and protected areas in Germany have lost 76 per cent of flying insect biomass since 1989

Researchers at the Krefeld Entomological Society in western Germany have calculated the mass of flying insects from dozens of nature reserves and their latest set of figures show a seasonal decline of 76 per cent across all seasons. There is also a worrying drop of 82 per cent in the summer – the high season for insects indicating that the highest losses occur when biomass is highest during a season.

What is causing the drop? Weather and climatic changes seemed to have little bearing on the figures. Land use change didn’t seem to fit the decline either. In fact, in the areas studied, forest have increased in size and number, while grassland and water bodies have stayed the same. Instead, the researchers hypothesise that larger-scale factors must be involved, such as pesticides and agricultural intensification.

Given that 94 per cent of the land studies are surrounded by agricultural fields, it is plausible that these protected regions could actually start becoming ecological traps of deadly chemicals. Identifying the cause ‘is urgent’ stresses the Krefeld team. ‘The widespread insect biomass decline is alarming, even more so as traps were places in protected areas that are meant to preserve ecosystem functions and biodiversity.’

The results support similar declines seen in specific butterfly and wild bee populations and suggest that the ‘flying community as a whole has been decimated over the last few decades’.

Related items

Subscribe to Geographical!

Geographical Week

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...
    The true cost of meat
    As one of the world’s biggest methane emitters, the meat industry has a lot more to concern itself with than merely dietary issues ...
    The green dragon awakens
    China has achieved remarkable economic success following the principle of developing first and cleaning up later. But now the country with the world's...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in NATURE...

Energy

The Treasury has announced that it is considering imposing a…

Tectonics

Major earthquakes are triggering seismic activity half the world away

Climate

Marco Magrini finds that a warming world also means a…

Wildlife

Unchecked tourism is potentially reducing the number of cheetah cubs that…

Oceans

A relocated military base in Okinawa, Japan will cause ‘irreversible’…

Climate

The ongoing recovery of the planet’s ozone layer is being…

Oceans

The Ocean Cleanup has launched System 001, a floating barrier…

Nature

New videos reveal how plants respond to wounds, sending forth…

Geophoto

The recent heatwave had everyone longing for a drop of…

Wildlife

The demand for horseshoe crab blood – vital for testing…

Climate

One of the problems in getting accurate climate science out…

Wildlife

Italy is divided over the future of its wolves and…

Energy

A Scottish tidal power project in the Pentland Firth has…

Oceans

The world’s first full global analysis of beaches reveals the…

Geophoto

With the recent Saddleworth Moor fire, it can be easy…

Wildlife

Whale sharks have been found to not travel far from…

Wildlife

The Lone Star tick is spreading across North America, carrying…

Tectonics

Earlier this week, Indonesia was struck by a series of…

Energy

Efforts to reduce the energy drain of the internet are…

Energy

Coal’s rising popularity among climate-apathetic leaders is a worrying trend,…