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Impact of insect decline needs further exploration

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29 March 2019

The UK research establishment needs to give greater support to those looking to understand the consequences of insect decline.

That’s the view forcefully put forward in a letter, led by Harper Adams Professor of Entomology, Simon Leather, and published in The Guardian.

The letter was co-signed by 27 leading figures from the fields of entomology and ecology, and asserts that although recent reports of imminent extinction are exaggerated, decline of pollinators and other insects is very real – and could have grave global impact.

It states: “Since insects underpin most non-marine food networks, serious declines would threaten the stability of wild nature, leading to reductions in numbers of insectivorous animals and those that eat them. The loss of pollinators would also adversely affect agriculture, since many crops depend on insects to set seed.”

Noting that previous peaks in media coverage of insect decline have resulted in little response from the government and science funding bodies, it sets out to make a case for greater backing for research looking into the ecological effects of a downward trend in insect populations.

“We felt that although it is clear that there is a global decline in the abundance and range of a number of insect species, a lack of funding has meant that a clear understanding of the factors causing this decline is lacking”, explained Prof Leather. “This will only be reached by a step-change in funding and concerted global cooperation”. Watch this space.

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