Predicting a global insect apocalypse

Cardoso, P. and Leather, S.R. (2019) Predicting a global insect apocalypse. Insect Conservation and Diversity, 12 (4). pp. 263-267.

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The last 3 years have seen a global outbreak of media headlines predicting a global insect apocalypse and a subsequent collapse of natural ecosystems, a so‐called ‘ecological armageddon’ resulting in the demise of human civilisation as we know it. Despite the worrying implications of these papers, all studies on global insect extinction to date clearly reflect the Prestonian shortfall, the general lack of knowledge on the abundance of species and their trends in space and time. Data currently available concerning global insect abundance trends invariably suffer from phylogenetic, functional, habitat, spatial and temporal bias. Here, we suggest that to follow the real global changes in insect (and all other taxa) communities, biases or shortcomings in data collection must be avoided. An optimised scheme would maximise phylogenetic, functional, habitat, spatial and temporal coverage with minimum investment. Standardised sampling would provide primary data, on a first step in the form of abundance and biomass. Individuals would then be identified to species level whenever possible, with a morphospecies approach or genetics serving as intermediate steps, complementing or even final steps for non‐described species. If standardised abundance and ecological data can be readily made available, biodiversity trends can be tracked in real time and allow us to predict and prevent an impending global insect apocalypse.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Arthropoda, extinction, inventory, monitoring, optimisation, sampling
Divisions: Crop and Environment Sciences (to 31.07.20)
Depositing User: Ms Kath Osborn
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2019 15:17
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2020 04:10

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