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Humanity must Save Insects to Save Ourselves, Leading Scientist Warns.

Oslo, May 7 (ONA) --- The largest ever assessment of the health

of nature was published and warned starkly that the annihilation of

wildlife is eroding the foundations of human civilisation.

The IPBES report said: "Insect abundance has declined very

rapidly in some places ... but the global extent of such declines is not

known." It said the available evidence supports a "tentative" estimate

that 10% of the 5.5m species of insect thought to exist are threatened

with extinction.

The food and water humanity relies upon are underpinned by

insects but Sverdrup-Thygeson's new book, Extraordinary Insects,

spends many of its pages on how wonderful and weird insects are.

"The first stage is to get people to appreciate these little creatures,"

said Sverdrup-Thygeson.

Some researchers warned in February that falling insect

populations threaten a "catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems"

while recent studies from Germany and Puerto Rico have revealed

plunging numbers over the last 25 to 35 years.

"Insects are the glue in nature and there is no doubt that both the

[numbers] and diversity of insects are declining," said Prof Anne

Sverdrup-Thygeson, at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. "At

some stage the whole fabric unravels and then we will really see the

consequences."

She pointed out that ants also play a little-known role in seed

dispersal for 11,000 species of plants. Some, like the wood anemone,

attach a "goody bag" of food to each seed, and the ants carry both

back to their hungry larvae in their underground nests.

The waste disposal service provided by insects is also vital,

decomposing wood, plants and animals into nutrients for new life. In

Australia, the lack of native dung beetles able to deal with the

prodigious output from imported European cattle led to vast swathes of

pasture being rendered useless in the 1960s.

Another critical service provided by insects is as food for many

other creatures, from birds to reptiles and amphibians and mammals.

The weight of insects eaten by birds alone is about the same weight of

all 7 billion people on the planet, said Sverdrup-Thygeson. However,

falling insect populations have contributed to the loss of 421m birds in

Europe in the last three decades, the British Guardian newspaper

reported.

--- Ends/TH/KH

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Publication:Oman News Agency
Date:May 7, 2019
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