Cardiff researcher unites with global scientists to compile insect recovery action plan
13 January 2020
A Cardiff University scientist has joined forces with more than 70 other experts from around the world to create an action plan aimed at halting the dramatic decline of insects.
Dr Hefin Jones, from Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, is among the experts who have collaborated on the roadmap for insect conservation and recovery.
Insect abundance - and their diversity - is coming under increasing pressure, affecting predators and pollinators.
“Insects may be small, but their impact is huge. The plummeting numbers of insects across the globe is a threat to nature, as they are vital to the maintenance of many ecosystems,” said Dr Jones.
“They provide a food source to many animals, including birds, small mammals and fish. If insects die out, this will have catastrophic impacts further up the food chain.
“As well as acting as a crucial food source in the food chain, they also play a vital role in food production, by pollinating plants. Without their valuable contribution, we won’t have food to eat.”
Human-induced factors such as habitat loss, pollution and climate change are leading to the demise of insects across the globe.
The action plan, published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, calls for immediate and long-term actions, including:
- Cutting pesticide use
- Reducing light, water and noise pollution
- Restoring variety to farmland, including rewilding and conservation
- New research into the stress factors that cause insect loss
- The establishment of an international body to monitor the impact of the roadmap
The scientists said these were “no-regret solutions” that will benefit society and biodiversity.
Dr Jones, an entomologist who focuses on biodiversity and climate change, said: “We need to act fast to save our insects.
“Failure to act could have catastrophic consequences, not only for insect species, but entire ecosystems. We need to prioritise which species, areas and issues need our attention most, and gain a better understanding of the environmental factors that are causing insect loss.
“This publication provides a road map for insect conservation, which will be vital to battling the environmental challenges that our planet is facing.”
Lead author Professor Jeff Harvey, of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, said: “As scientists, we want to gather all available knowledge and put it to action together with land managers, policymakers and everyone else involved.”