Declining Insect Population, Sign of Weakening Ecosystem
Biodiversity groups are calling the world’s attention to a compilation of numerous scientific reports that confirms, various species of insect are experiencing declines in population.
Sharp declines in insect populations are significant scientific findings, because such occurrences are suggestive of biodiversity loss. In an interview with The Guardian last January 2019, Dr Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, explained that
”If insect species losses cannot be halted, this will have catastrophic consequences for both the planet’s ecosystems and for the survival of mankind.”
Dr. Sanchez-Bayo together with Kris Wyckhuys of the University of Queensland, reviewed 73 historical studies on insect population decline, and thereafter arrived at a conclusion that the rate of extinction in some insect species, is eight (8) times faster than those occurring among species of birds, mammals and reptiles.
Significance of Insect Species in Global Ecosystems
Like any living organisms, every insect species existing in the global environment, plays a critical role in keeping the ecosystem in balance. The most that people know about insects in relation to their importance is that they pollinate plants as well as serve as deterrents against pests that destroy fauna.
The two Australian scientific researchers stressed the importance of the productive role played by insect species as part of a natural ecosystem.
Insects are vital to many of nature’s ecosystems. That is because they pose as common food source for larger types of animals. Dr. Sánchez-Bayo stressed that if the continuous decline in insect population reaches the extinction stage, then all animals dependent on those insects will likely starve.
Insects also take part in maintaining soil fertility and good structure, as they are inclined to feed on rotting vegetations and carcasses of dead animals. In the process, their feeding activities will then recycle the nutrients back to the soil.
Causes of Quick and Unnatural Rate by Which Insect Species Decline
The pair of Australian researchers had established that loss of habitat is the main driver. After all, displaced insect species deprived of food and natural protection are unable to successfully reproduce. Habitat loss on the other hand, is mostly the result of urbanisation, intensive and aggressive agricultural methods, and in the past years, frequent wildfire occurrences.
Other drivers include rampant use of synthetic pesticides, domination of invasive species, and continuing climate change. The Australian researchers pointed out through their review that
“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,”
Additional Information Related to Loss of Habitat Affecting Insects
In recent years, insects such as locusts and crickets have swarmed across agricultural fields in US western regions. The US Department of Agriculture in Idaho and Nevada warned that out-of-control swarms of crickets have devastating effects, since they feed on almost anything they can chew on. Field crops have been decimated, while road accidents happened when a swarm marched across roads and highways.
The incidents gave local farmers and residents reasons to find ways and means on how to get rid of crickets. Although necessary, it must be pointed out that swarming in places where they can find an abundance of food is only a result of habitat loss.
Use of pesticides are merely quick solutions during emergency situations. Once resolved, communities must employ other methods such as placing decaying wood and organic materials in locations where crickets can make their way to sustainable types of environments, such as bogs, grasslands, forests and marshes.