International research team confirmed perilous decline in insect biomass

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International research team confirmed perilous decline in insect biomass

A recent study by Dutch, German and British scientists published in the journal Plos one adds more evidence to the dramatic decline of flying insects in Germany and thus provides the first evidence of a global insect death.

The study published on 18.10.2017 supports what voluntary entomologists of the Entomological Association Krefeld have long suspected: In large parts of Germany, the number of flying insects has decreased dramatically over the last few years. Over the past 27 years, the voluntary members of the association have set up Malaise-traps in 63 nature reserves in North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg and Rhineland-Palatinate. Millions of flies, butterflies, beetles, wasps and bees - a total of 53.54 kilograms of biomass – fell into the researchers traps. The study, which has just been published, provides a  scientifically sound basis for these observations. The result: Since the 90s, the biomass of insects has decreased by an average of 76 percent.

Agricultural intensification might be one cause for decline in insect biomass

The exact causes of the decline are still unclear. Climate change and land use changes are unable to explain this. However, the authors name agricultural intensification (e. g. increased use of pesticides, year-round tillage, increased use of fertilisers) as plausible causes of insect deaths. However, the study cannot provide a clear explanation of the causes.
Although intensive farming has not been proven to be the main cause of insect deaths, there is a public demand for good agricultural practice that also serves to protect insects.

European partner consortium aims to improve the protection of biodiversity in agriculture

The EU-wide initiative "Biodiversity in the Standards and Labels of the Food Industry" of a consortium of partners around the Global Nature Fund is aiming directly at standards and labels for the food industry in order to improve the protection of biodiversity in agriculture as a whole. A Biodiversity Performance Tool (BPT) developed in the project, for example, is used to assess the current situation and potential for biodiversity on farms.

The main objective of the project is to further develop and apply the standards and labels of the food industry as well as supplier guidelines as instruments for the effective protection of biological diversity, including insects.

More about the project:

Study „More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas":