skip to main content

Title: Missing the bigger picture: Why insect monitoring programs are limited in their ability to document the effects of habitat loss

The fate of insects in the Anthropocene has been widely discussed in the scientific literature, the popular media, and in policy circles. This recent attention is justified because reductions in insect abundance and diversity have the potential to undermine the stability of terrestrial ecosystems. Reports of insect declines have also been accompanied by skepticism that is healthy and to be expected in scientific discussion. However, we are concerned about a prevalent misconception that equates reports from monitored natural areas with the global status of insects. In the vast majority of cases, areas monitored for arthropods are undeveloped and thus do not record or even necessarily reflect the masses of insects that are continuously being impacted by habitat loss to urban, suburban and agricultural expansion. We address this misconception and discuss ways in which conservation and policy can be enhanced by correctly locating results from insect monitoring programs within our broader knowledge of biodiversity loss.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Conservation Letters
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Over the last three decades, insects have been utilized to provide a deep and fundamental understanding of many human diseases and disorders. Here, we present arguments for insects as models to understand general principles underlying hearing loss. Despite ∼600 million years since the last common ancestor of vertebrates and invertebrates, we share an overwhelming degree of genetic homology particularly with respect to auditory organ development and maintenance. Despite the anatomical differences between human and insect auditory organs, both share physiological principles of operation. We explain why these observations are expected and highlight areas in hearing loss research in which insects can provide insight. We start by briefly introducing the evolutionary journey of auditory organs, the reasons for using insect auditory organs for hearing loss research, and the tools and approaches available in insects. Then, the first half of the review focuses on auditory development and auditory disorders with a genetic cause. The second half analyses the physiological and genetic consequences of ageing and short‐ and long‐term changes as a result of noise exposure. We finish with complex age and noise interactions in auditory systems. In this review, we present some of the evidence and arguments to support the use of insects to study mechanisms and potential treatments for hearing loss in humans. Obviously, insects cannot fully substitute for all aspects of human auditory function and loss of function, although there are many important questions that can be addressed in an animal model for which there are important ethical, practical and experimental advantages.image

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Background Hydrological impacts on aquatic biota have been assessed in numerous empirical studies. Aquatic insects are severely affected by population declines and consequent diversity loss. However, many uncertainties remain regarding the effects of hydrology on insect production and the consequences of energy transfer to the terrestrial ecosystem. Likewise, sublethal effects on insect morphology remain poorly quantified in highly variable environments. Here, we characterized monthly fluctuation in benthic and emerged biomass of Ephemeroptera in a tropical lowland stream. We quantified the proportion of mayfly production that emerges into the riparian forest. We also examined the potential morphological changes in Farrodes caribbianus (the most abundant mayfly in our samples) due to environmental stress. Methods We collected mayflies (nymphs and adults) in a first-order stream in Costa Rica. We compared benthic and adult biomass from two years’ worth of samples, collected with a core sampler (0.006 m 2 ) and a 2 m 2 -emergence trap. The relationship between emergence and annual secondary production (E/P) was used to estimate the Ephemeroptera production that emerged as adults. A model selection approach was used to determine the relationship between environmental variables that were collected monthly and the emergent biomass. To determine potential departures from perfect bilateral symmetry, we evaluated the symmetry of two morphological traits (forceps and forewing) of F. caribbianus adults. We used Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients (ρ) to examine potential changes in adult body length as a possible response to environmental stress. Results Benthic biomass was variable, with peaks throughout the study period. However, peaks in benthic biomass did not lead to increases in mayfly emergence, which remained stable over time. Relatively constant mayfly emergence suggests that they were aseasonal in tropical lowland streams. Our E/P estimate indicated that approximately 39% and 20% (for 2002 and 2003, respectively) of the nymph production emerged as adults. Our estimated proportion of mayfly production transferred to terrestrial ecosystems was high relative to reports from temperate regions. We observed a strong negative response of F . caribbianus body length to increased hydrology (Spearman: ρ = −0.51, p < 0.001), while slight departures from perfect symmetry were observed in all traits. Conclusion Our two years study demonstrates that there was large temporal variability in mayfly biomass that was unrelated to hydrological fluctuations, but potentially related to trophic interactions (e.g., fish predation). Body length was a good indicator of environmental stress, which could have severe associated costs for mayfly fitness in ecosystems with high temporal variation. Our results highlight the complex ecological and evolutionary dynamics of tropical aquatic insects, and the intricate connection between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    Insects are the most ubiquitous and diverse group of eukaryotic organisms on Earth, forming a crucial link in terrestrial and freshwater food webs. They have recently become the subject of headlines because of observations of dramatic declines in some places. Although there are hundreds of long‐term insect monitoring programs, a global database for long‐term data on insect assemblages has so far remained unavailable. In order to facilitate synthetic analyses of insect abundance changes, we compiled a database of long‐term (≥10 yr) studies of assemblages of insects (many also including arachnids) in the terrestrial and freshwater realms. We searched the scientific literature and public repositories for data on insect and arachnid monitoring using standardized protocols over a time span of 10 yr or longer, with at least two sampling events. We focused on studies that presented or allowed calculation of total community abundance or biomass. We extracted data from tables, figures, and appendices, and, for data sets that provided raw data, we standardized trapping effort over space and time when necessary. For each site, we extracted provenance details (such as country, state, and continent) as well as information on protection status, land use, and climatic details from publicly available GIS sources. In all, the database contains 1,668 plot‐level time series sourced from 165 studies with samples collected between 1925 and 2018. Sixteen data sets provided here were previously unpublished. Studies were separated into those collected in the terrestrial realm (103 studies with a total of 1,053 plots) and those collected in the freshwater realm (62 studies with 615 plots). Most studies were from Europe (48%) and North America (29%), with 34% of the plots located in protected areas. The median monitoring time span was 19 yr, with 12 sampling years. The number of individuals was reported in 129 studies, the total biomass was reported in 13 studies, and both abundance and biomass were reported in 23 studies. This data set is published under a CC‐BY license, requiring attribution of the data source. Please cite this paper if the data are used in publications, and respect the licenses of the original sources when using (part of) their data as detailed in Metadata S1: Table 1.

    more » « less
  4. PLEASE CONTACT AUTHORS IF YOU CONTRIBUTE AND WOULD LIKE TO BE LISTED AS A CO-AUTHOR. (this message will be removed some time weeks/months after the first publication)

    Terrestrial Parasite Tracker indexed biotic interactions and review summary.

    The Terrestrial Parasite Tracker (TPT) project began in 2019 and is funded by the National Science foundation to mobilize data from vector and ectoparasite collections to data aggregators (e.g., iDigBio, GBIF) to help build a comprehensive picture of arthropod host-association evolution, distributions, and the ecological interactions of disease vectors which will assist scientists, educators, land managers, and policy makers. Arthropod parasites often are important to human and wildlife health and safety as vectors of pathogens, and it is critical to digitize these specimens so that they, and their biotic interaction data, will be available to help understand and predict the spread of human and wildlife disease.

    This data publication contains versioned TPT associated datasets and related data products that were tracked, reviewed and indexed by Global Biotic Interactions (GloBI) and associated tools. GloBI provides open access to finding species interaction data (e.g., predator-prey, pollinator-plant, pathogen-host, parasite-host) by combining existing open datasets using open source software.

    If you have questions or comments about this publication, please open an issue at or contact the authors by email.

    The creation of this archive was made possible by the National Science Foundation award "Collaborative Research: Digitization TCN: Digitizing collections to trace parasite-host associations and predict the spread of vector-borne disease," Award numbers DBI:1901932 and DBI:1901926

    Jorrit H. Poelen, James D. Simons and Chris J. Mungall. (2014). Global Biotic Interactions: An open infrastructure to share and analyze species-interaction datasets. Ecological Informatics.

    GloBI Data Review Report

    Datasets under review:
     - University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Insect Division. Full Database Export 2020-11-20 provided by Erika Tucker and Barry Oconner. accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:02:48.801Z
     - Academy of Natural Sciences Entomology Collection for the Parasite Tracker Project accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:04:22.091Z
     - Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, J. Linsley Gressitt Center for Research in Entomology accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:04:37.692Z
     - Texas A&M University, Biodiversity Teaching and Research Collections accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:06:40.154Z
     - Brigham Young University Arthropod Museum accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:06:51.420Z
     - California Academy of Sciences Entomology accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:07:16.371Z
     - Clemson University Arthropod Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:07:40.925Z
     - Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) Parasite specimens (DMNS:Para) accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:08:00.730Z
     - Field Museum of Natural History IPT accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:18:51.995Z
     - Illinois Natural History Survey Insect Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:19:37.563Z
     - UMSP / University of Minnesota / University of Minnesota Insect Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:20:27.232Z
     - Milwaukee Public Museum Biological Collections Data Portal accessed via on 2022-06-24T14:20:46.185Z
     - Museum for Southern Biology (MSB) Parasite Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T15:16:07.223Z
     - The Albert J. Cook Arthropod Research Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:09:40.702Z
     - Ohio State University Acarology Laboratory accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:10:00.281Z
     - Frost Entomological Museum, Pennsylvania State University accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:10:07.741Z
     - Purdue Entomological Research Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:10:26.654Z
     - Texas A&M University Insect Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:10:58.496Z
     - University of California Santa Barbara Invertebrate Zoology Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:12:29.854Z
     - University of Hawaii Insect Museum accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:12:41.408Z
     - University of New Hampshire Collection of Insects and other Arthropods UNHC-UNHC accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:12:59.500Z
     - Scott L. Gardner and Gabor R. Racz (2021). University of Nebraska State Museum - Parasitology. Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology. University of Nebraska State Museum. accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:13:06.914Z
     - Data were obtained from specimens belonging to the United States National Museum of Natural History (USNM), Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC and digitized by the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRBU). accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:13:38.013Z
     - US National Museum of Natural History Ixodes Records accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:13:45.666Z
     - Price Institute of Parasite Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Utah accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:13:54.724Z
     - University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, Stephen J. Taft Parasitological Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:14:04.745Z
     - Giraldo-Calderón, G. I., Emrich, S. J., MacCallum, R. M., Maslen, G., Dialynas, E., Topalis, P., … Lawson, D. (2015). VectorBase: an updated bioinformatics resource for invertebrate vectors and other organisms related with human diseases. Nucleic acids research, 43(Database issue), D707–D713. doi:10.1093/nar/gku1117. accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:14:11.965Z
     - WIRC / University of Wisconsin Madison WIS-IH / Wisconsin Insect Research Collection accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:14:29.743Z
     - Yale University Peabody Museum Collections Data Portal accessed via on 2022-06-24T16:23:29.289Z

    Generated on:

    GloBI's Elton 0.12.4 

    Note that all files ending with .tsv are files formatted 
    as UTF8 encoded tab-separated values files.

    Included in this review archive are:

      This file.

      Summary across all reviewed collections of total number of distinct review comments.

      Summary by reviewed collection of total number of distinct review comments.

      Summary of number of indexed interaction records by institutionCode and collectionCode.

      All review comments by collection.

      All indexed interactions for all reviewed collections.

      All indexed interactions for all reviewed collections selecting only sourceInstitutionCode, sourceCollectionCode, sourceCatalogNumber, sourceTaxonName, interactionTypeName and targetTaxonName.

      Details on the datasets under review.

      Program used to update datasets and generate the review reports and associated indexed interactions.
      Source datasets used by elton.jar in process of executing the script.
      Program used to generate the report

      Log file generated as part of running the script

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    Recent reports of insect declines have caused concern among scientists and the public. Declines in insect abundance and biomass are ubiquitous across many climatic zones and have been largely attributed to anthropogenic land use intensification and climate change. However, there are few examples of long‐term continuous data in relatively undisturbed environments, as opposed to agricultural landscapes. We sampled insects weekly from 1986 to 2020 in a protected subalpine meadow in Colorado, which is embedded in an undisturbed natural landscape. During the study period, summers became warmer, while winters became drier. Insect biomass declined by ∼47% and abundance declined by ∼61.5% over the last 35 years. Insect declines occurred in concert with changes in climate, as some climate factors were correlated with insect abundance and biomass. Specifically, insect abundance was lower during years with less summer precipitation and winter snowfall, and to a lesser degree with warmer temperatures. In subalpine systems, changes in precipitation and warmer temperatures are expected to continue under climate change; thus, continued insect declines might be expected even in relatively undisturbed habitats.

    more » « less