Arthropod decline in grasslands and forests is associated with landscape-level drivers

Journal: Nature

Published: 2019-10-30

DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1684-3

Affiliations: 13

Authors: 19

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Research Highlight

Insect numbers dropping like flies

© Schon/Getty

© Schon/Getty

Land-use changes on the landscape level are driving local declines in insect biodiversity.

Insects have been disappearing at alarming rates in Germany, and some blame the increase in farming, forestry and other land uses.

A team led by researchers from the Technical University of Munich analysed bug biodiversity at 150 grassland and 140 forest sites using sweep-net samples collected annually between 2008 and 2017. Each site was given a land-use intensity rating based on human activities for five radii between 250 metres and 2 kilometres.

Over the decade, insect biodiversity dropped by a third in both grassland and forest habitats, while biomass declined by two-thirds on grasslands, and two-fifths in forests.

Additionally, more species, particularly the less-mobile varieties, vanished as surrounding farmland cover increased. This reveals the impact of human activity at the landscape scale.

Land-use policies should look beyond individual plots of land and coordinate a regional and national response to prevent further losses.

Supported content

  1. Nature 574, 671–674 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1684-3
Institutions Share
TUM Research Department Ecology and Ecosystem Management, Germany 0.21
Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS), UniBE, Switzerland 0.16
Department of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology (Zoology III), JMU, Germany 0.11
Department of Silviculture and Forest Ecology of the Temperate Zones, University of Göttingen, Germany 0.11
Faculty of Geography, Uni Marburg, Germany 0.11
Research Group of Ecological Networks, TU Darmstadt, Germany 0.08
WSL Forest Entomology Group, Switzerland 0.05
Institute of Forest Sciences, Uni Freiburg, Germany 0.05
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry (MPIBGC), Germany 0.05
Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany 0.03
Department of Agricultural Biotechnologys, Duzce University, Turkey 0.03
Department of Biosciences, University of Salzburg, Austria 0.03