Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Insect declines in the anthropocene.

Abstract

Insect declines are being reported worldwide for flying, ground, and aquatic lineages. Most reports come from western and northern Europe, where the insect fauna is well-studied and there are considerable demographic data for many taxonomically disparate lineages. Additional cases of faunal losses have been noted from Asia, North America, the Arctic, the Neotropics, and elsewhere. While this review addresses both species loss and population declines, its emphasis is on the latter. Declines of abundant species can be especially worrisome, given that they anchor trophic interactions and shoulder many of the essential ecosystem services of their respective communities. A review of the factors believed to be responsible for observed collapses and those perceived to be especially threatening to insects form the core of this treatment. In addition to widely recognized threats to insect biodiversity, e.g., habitat destruction, agricultural intensification (including pesticide use), climate change, and invasive species, this assessment highlights a few less commonly considered factors such as atmospheric nitrification from the burning of fossil fuels and the effects of droughts and changing precipitation patterns. Because the geographic extent and magnitude of insect declines are largely unknown, there is an urgent need for monitoring efforts, especially across ecological gradients, which will help to identify important causal factors in declines. This review also considers the status of vertebrate insectivores, reporting bias, challenges inherent in collecting and interpreting insect demographic data, and cases of increasing insect abundance.