A new study of life in Puerto Rico’s Luquillo rainforest says we can add insects to the list of creatures the human race is killing off at an unprecedented rate.
Bugs like this are being killed off at frighteningly fast rates by global warming and its side effects.
According to a paper published on October 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), “[a]rthropods, invertebrates including insects that have external skeletons, are declining at an alarming rate."
The reason is climate change, and the rate at which it is causing bug extinctions should scare just about anyone.
Using Puerto Rico as the focus of their analyses, study co-authors Bradford Lister of Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute and Andres Garcia of the National Autonomous University of Mexico noted, “We compared arthropod biomass in Puerto Rico's Luquillo rainforest with data taken during the 1970s and found that biomass had fallen 10 to 60 times." They went on to say that, "Our analyses revealed synchronous declines in the lizards, frogs, and birds that eat arthropods. Over the past 30 years, forest temperatures have risen 2.0 °C, and our study indicates that climate warming is the driving force behind the collapse of the forest's food web. If supported by further research, the impact of climate change on tropical ecosystems may be much greater than currently anticipated."
The results of the study mirror studies in other parts of the world that show a similar collapse insect populations, such as protected forests in Germany where insect populations have collapsed by some 70%.
The problem is not just that the bugs are dying at similar rates to all other species, but also that, as climate change issues gets worse in certain regions such as Puerto Rico, “the frequency and intensity of hurricanes in Puerto Rico are expected to increase, along with the severity of droughts and an additional 2.6–7 °C temperature increase by 2099, conditions that collectively may exceed the resilience of the rainforest ecosystem."
Without insects, many terrestrial ecosystems will collapse.
The news is yet another serious indication that our planet is in a dire state of decline and is an urgent call to action. If we do nothing, as we certainly will, the next big population collapse will be the human population.