PerspectiveEcology

Nuanced changes in insect abundance

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Science  24 Apr 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6489, pp. 368-369
DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6861

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Summary

Drastic declines in insect biomass, abundance, and diversity reported in the literature have raised concerns among scientists and the public (13). If extrapolated across Earth, biomass losses of ∼25% per decade (1) project a potential catastrophe developing unnoticed under our noses. The phrase “insect Armageddon” has captured the collective attention and shined a spotlight on one of the most numerous and diverse groups of organisms on the planet. Yet, insects are critically understudied. For example, the BioTIME database (4)—a compilation of biodiversity time series—contains records for 22% of known bird species but only 3% of arthropods (the phylum that includes insects and spiders). On page 417 of this issue, van Klink et al. conduct a thorough global assessment of insect abundance and biomass trends and paint a more nuanced picture than that predicted by extrapolations (5).

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