Saturday, September 30, 2023

Insect Populations Collapsing All Around the World, Yet Conservation Efforts Are Ignoring Them

Insects perform critical roles in nearly every ecosystem, pollinating more than 80% of plants and providing food for hundreds of vertebrate species.

However, insect populations are falling over the world, and conservation efforts continue to miss them.

Protected areas can help endangered species, but only if the threatened species live in the areas we protect.

According to a new study, 76% of insect species are not adequately protected by protected areas.

Protected areas fail to safeguard insects

(Photo : ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s past time to consider insects in conservation assessments,” said lead author Shawan Chowdhury, a conservation biologist at the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), as per ScienceDaily.

Countries must include insects in protected area planning and management.

Although it is well known that protected areas actively protect many vertebrate species from key anthropogenic threats, the extent to which this is true for insects is unknown.

Chowdhury and colleagues overlay species distribution data from the Worldwide Biodiversity Information Facility with global maps of protected areas to assess what fraction of insect species are protected by protected areas.

They discovered that 76% of global insect species, including several critically endangered insects like the dinosaur ant, crimson Hawaiian damselfly, and harnessed tiger moth, are underrepresented in protected areas.

Furthermore, protected areas had no overlap with the worldwide ranges of 1,876 species from 225 families.

The writers were taken aback by the level of underrepresentation.

Because protected areas provide a lot of insect data, we assumed that the proportion of species covered by protected areas would be higher, said Chowdhury.

The shortfall is also much greater than in a similar study on vertebrate species, which discovered that 57% of 25,380 vertebrate species were inadequately covered.

In some areas, insects were better protected than in others. In Amazonia, Saudi Arabia, Western Australia, the Neotropics, the Afrotropics, and Central Europe, a relatively high proportion of insect species received adequate protection, but many species in North America, Eastern Europe, South, and Southeast Asia, and Australasia did not.

Insects have historically been overlooked by conservation programs, and this study was hampered by a lack of data on insect distributions.

“We could only calculate the ranges of 89,151 of the estimated 5.5 million bug species worldwide,” added Chowdhury.

Insects account for more than 80% of all animals, but only 8% of the assessed species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Even if insects live within protected areas, they may not benefit from this “protection.”

Many insect species are declining within protected areas due to threats such as rapid environmental change and the loss of corridors and roads.

A variety of steps can be taken to conserve insects efficiently, and participation from all types of people is required.

Citizen science could have a huge impact on filling the data gap on insect distributions.

Scientists and policymakers must now step up to help with the issue of identifying important insect conservation sites.

Also Read: The Important Role of Insects in the Decay and Decomposition of Corpses and Carcasses

Actions to Protect Endangered Species

Learn about local endangered animals.

Teach your friends and family about the amazing wildlife, birds, fish, and plants in your area, as per Endangered Species Coalition.

The first step in protecting endangered species is understanding how fascinating and important they are.

Create a pollinator garden in your yard with native plants. Native plants provide native wildlife with food and shelter.

Attracting native insects such as bees and butterflies can aid in the pollination of your plants.

Planting invasive species should be avoided. Non-native plants have the potential to engulf and destroy native species on which animals rely.

Reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides. Herbicides and pesticides are harmful chemicals that can have a wide range of effects on animals.

Reduce the amount of fertilizer you use. Excess fertilizer will almost certainly wash into streams and rivers, causing amphibian deformities and deaths.

Reduce the amount of water you use in your house and yard to provide animals who live in or near water a greater chance of survival.

Do not dispose of paint, oil, antifreeze, or other chemicals that pollute the environment and endanger people and wildlife.

Keep litter and pet waste away from the street drain, which frequently washes into rivers, lakes, and the ocean.

Related article: Study Showed that Flying Insect Population Decreased by 60% Since 2004

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