Study Reveals Way to Measure Role of Climate Change in Insect Decline

by Davidson College
April 21, 2023

While there are only about 11,000 species of birds or 35,000 species of fish, there are over 150,000 species of flies and over 385,000 species of beetles.

“All these insects play a critical role in pollinating crops (estimated at 75% of all crops), and the loss of pollinators could lead to decreased crop yields and reduced food security,” said Mark Stanback, Davidson College professor of biology emeritus. “They also play vital roles in pest control, nutrient cycling, and decomposition. Additionally, insects are a critical food source for many species, including birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles, and their decline at the base of a food chain can affect the entire ecosystem.”

To learn more about the causes of recent seismic shifts in insect populations, scientists at Davidson College and Catawba College collaborated on a three-year research project with more than 50 other scientists to examine the impact of temperature variation on insects in North America. The research was published in the scientific journal Ecology in late March.

Importantly, the research provides a framework for measuring potential future declines of flying insect abundance across all of North America.

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Read the Ecology paper: