Inside the great insect die-off

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Inside the great insect die-off

Postby Jack Flash » 15 Dec 17, 11:51 am

https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... extinction

Looked at from the point of view of species diversity, we mammals are just a handful of mice on a globe full of beetles. The great majority of those beetles are herbivores native to the tropics. So if you really want to understand the total diversity of life on Earth – and the true rate at which it is disappearing – you need to figure out how many types of beetle munch on every variety of tropical tree.


Erwin wanted to figure out how many species of insect lived on an average acre of rainforest in Panama, where he was working. To do this, he covered a single tree in sheeting and “fogged” it, by blasting it with insecticide from a device resembling a leafblower. He waited several hours while dead bugs cascaded on to the plastic sheeting he had spread on the ground. He then spent months counting and sorting them all. What Erwin found was startling: 1,200 species lived on this one tree.


Insect abundance seems to be declining precipitously, even in places where their habitats have not suffered notable new losses. A troubling new report from Germany has shown a 75% plunge in insect populations since 1989, suggesting that they may be even more imperilled than any previous studies suggested. Entomologists across the world have watched this decline with growing concern.


Sure bugs can be annoying - but they are the base of our food chain
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