Top scientists issue plea for help to save Aussie insects from extinction

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-02 12:22:01|Editor: mingmei
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CANBERRA, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national science agency has called for regular civilians to step up to save insect populations from the brink of collapse.

According to David Yeates, the director of the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC) at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), insect populations are declining around the world but it is unclear how severe the decline is in Australia.

In order to gain a better understanding, the ANIC has called on Australians to use citizen science applications on their smartphones to report encounters with endangered insects so as to allow for the development of targeted solutions.

"While insect declines are no doubt occurring in Australia, the extent of the problem is unclear," he said in a media release on Monday.

"Insects are essential. They provide billions of dollars' worth of ecological services to us each year, such as plant pollination, waste disposal and pest control.

"We have good data on declines in some iconic species such as the Bogong moth, green carpenter bee and Key's Matchstick Grasshopper, however very few of our estimated 250,000 insect species are being monitored."

A study published by University of Sydney researchers in February found that 40 percent of insect species are facing "catastrophic decline" within a century.

Yeates said that the flow-on effects of such a decline would be devastating.

"The worry is, if insect populations are in decline, so are the populations of larger animals such as birds and lizards who rely on them as food," he said.

"We really need long-term data sets that would provide a better picture of what is happening with our insects - where they are and in what numbers."