Birds and other small animals that feed on insects are feeling the reduction of insect population in a bunch of different places.
A very likely candidate for such a reduction of insect populations is climate change.
The Puerto Rico work is one of just a handful of studies assessing this vital issue, but those that do exist are deeply worrying. Flying insect numbers in Germany’s natural reserves have plunged 75% in just 25 years. The virtual disappearance of birds in an Australian eucalyptus forest was blamed on a lack of insects caused by drought and heat. Lister and his colleague Andrés García also found that insect numbers in a dry forest in Mexico had fallen 80% since the 1980s.
Our house is on fire, indeed.
Understanding how interconnected our biosphere is, and what a bottom-up cascade could mean is an important part of ecological studies. We’re not just facing unpredictable cascades of released methane in permafrost tundras, we’re also facing the wide-spread effects on population reduction in smaller and more fragile biota - and up-hill domino effect that these population reductions might bring.
The largest polluters - China, India and the US, aren’t likely to reverse course soon. Neither is Brazil likely to stop burning the Amazon jungle. Probably need to get ready for a different world. Maybe living under a bio dome is an option on a local basis.
It’s looking really dismal.
I feel sorry for future generations.
The largest polluters - China, India and the US, aren’t likely to reverse course soon.
The current course of pollution will continue until someone figures out a way to make more money providing energy than fossil fuel, or the fossil fuel profiteers take a massive hit to their wallet.
In the meantime, the fossil fuel industry will use every resource in their power to maintain the money making status quo.
A major pressure on speciation is habitat fragmentation, which is related to how we use and shape the environment, but is not directly related to climate change. As habitats grow more isolated and smaller, the number of species supported goes down. The species with more specific requirements are the first to go, and this can lead to problems for species that interact with them. Often the most productive land for insect biomass is wetland which has seen losses upwards of 80-90% since the 1950s, even in “well developed” regions like England and Germany. Since the 50’s, Germany has lost at least 80% of it’s marshes, swamps and mesic grassland.
To compound this effect, these types of lands are critical in filtering out toxins in water ways. So as high biomass wetlands disappear, the effects of chemicals from farming and transportation become more pronounced.
If you want to learn more about how habitat fragmentation works, there’s a well studied phenomenon in the US involving lyme disease. Multiple scientific papers and journal articles can be found talking about it. Even if we solve climate change, habitat fragmentation is a separate issue with completely different solutions.
Habitat fragmentation (and reduction) could certainly be playing a role in this, but I don’t think we should discount climate change either.
However we look at it, we should acknowledge that humanity is a global phenomena at this point, and worry about unforeseen side effects of what we’re doing right now, as well as those impacts we’re aware of. Who could have predicted that micro-plastic was going to be such a big deal today, when 60 years ago tupperware parties were just starting to be vogue…
Climate change is a big problem, that doesn’t mean it is the cause of all problems.
One of the flaws of assuming climate change as the culprit is that insects respond pretty quickly to environmental shifts. If temps are warming they could move to higher elevation to get to more comfortable temps (or seeing as most insects are r-type breeding species, they would just replace themselves in more hospitable environs), but that isn’t what we are seeing. We’re just seeing an overall reduction across the board.
Chemicals and habitat loss are the more likely culprit.