You may not notice, but there's something very disturbing going on quietly in the wild: insects are disappearing at an alarming rate.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that arthropod biomass (including insects, centipedes, and spiders) have declined 10- to 60-fold in the past 30 years.
Ben Guarino of The Washington Post wrote:
The researchers trapped arthropods on the ground in plates covered in a sticky glue, and raised several more plates about three feet into the canopy. The researchers also swept nets over the brush hundreds of times, collecting the critters that crawled through the vegetation.
Each technique revealed the biomass (the dry weight of all the captured invertebrates) had significantly decreased from 1976 to the present day ... Between January 1977 and January 2013, the catch rate in the sticky ground traps fell 60-fold.
“Everything is dropping,” Lister said. The most common invertebrates in the rain forest — the moths, the butterflies, the grasshoppers, the spiders and others — are all far less abundant.
“Holy crap,” Wagner said of the 60-fold loss.
So what, you think? You should be concerned: insects are at the bottom of the food pyramid of the forests in the world, and their crashing population will adversely affect all the animals that depend on them for food - and ultimately, the health of the forests themselves. Not only that, insects are our main pollinators for crops, so we depend on them for our food supply.
The study linked climate change as the driving force behind the collapse of the forest food web.
(Photo: Chris Huh/Wikipedia)