The insect fauna shrinks so fast thatmay disappear completely over the next century, according to a report by scholars from Sydney and Quisland universities, as well as the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing. After examining 73 research papers on insect abatement published over the past thirty years, the researchers analyzed the causes of what is happening. The findings, published in the journal Biological Conservation, are disappointing: the total insect population is reduced by 2.5 percent per year. This is a catastrophic pace.
The report says that 40 percentspecies has already declined, with a third of them being threatened with extinction. In mammals, birds and reptiles, the extinction rate is eight times lower, scientists are sounding the alarm.
"If you do not stop the disappearance of insects, thiswill have disastrous consequences for the survival of humanity, "- says one of the authors of the report, Francisco Sanchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney.
“Two and a half percent annual losses forlast 25-30 years are shocking. It's very fast. In 10 years we will have a quarter fewer insects, in 50 years only half will remain, and in 100 years they will not be at all. ”
The main reason for this phenomenon, scientists callhabitat loss, which is due to active human agricultural activity. In addition, the researchers identify other causes of insect extinction: contamination with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, biological factors (exposure to pathogens, destruction or replacement with alien species), as well as climate change. The last factor especially affects tropical regions, but in general, plays not the most important role, the report says.
The disappearance of insects will trigger a chain reaction. Hunger will kill many species of birds, reptiles and amphibians. Moreover, the lack of food can lead to the fact that some species of birds (more precisely, 60 percent of birds feed only on insects), start hunting for other species of birds. The study notes that this has already happened in Australia. The insect shortage caused the birds to attack each other. The death of insects will also lead to the extinction of many species of plants. Scientists estimate that about 80 percent of wild plants are pollinated with insects.
Agriculture itself will suffer. Insects not only pollinate plants, but also hunt other pests. Without their protection, harmful insects will be able to freely destroy crops and interfere with the growth of seedlings.
How to fix the situation
The authors of the report believe that humanityit is necessary to reconsider the ways of growing food. In particular, the authors urge to seriously reduce the use of pesticides and to move towards the use of more ecological methods of growing food.
"If we do not change our ways of productionfood insects in general will practically disappear in a few decades. The consequences for the ecosystems of the planet will be terrible, ”research warns.
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