After analyzing the results, they found that flying insect biomass had decreased by 76 percent and up to 82 percent in the summers during the time of the study. "The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery", Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands and who led the new research, told The Guardian.
Scientists don't think that neither landscape nor climate change was the cause of this decline. Thirty-seven of the locations were only sampled once, and 26 locations at least twice, with many years in between.
Dave Goulson, professor of life sciences at the University of Sussex and the study's co-author, said: "Insects make up about two-thirds of all life on Earth but there has been some kind of horrific decline".
"This is the first study that looked into the total biomass of flying insects and it confirms our worries". Ecologists from Radboud University together with German and English colleagues published these findings in the scientific journal PLOS ONE on October 18.
To prove that their suspicions on the flying insect decline were correct, Hallmann and his team placed Malaise traps within 63 different nature protection areas in Germany to measure the total flying insect biomass.
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While no corresponding data over the same study period is available for non-flying insects, "we can just hope they are faring better, but we have no reason to believe that is the case", Hallman said.
The researchers discovered an average decline of 76 percent in the total insect mass. Weather and climatic changes seemed to have little bearing on the figures.
"All these areas are protected and majority are managed nature reserves". "Many of these preserves are islands surrounded by farmland, which may act as a sink for insects, resulting in a steady flow out from these lands", says study author and ecologist Dave Goulson of the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom. "The research areas are mostly small and enclosed by agricultural areas".
The exact causes of the decline are still unclear. "As entire ecosystems are dependent on insects for food and as pollinators, it places the decline of insect eating birds and mammals in a new context". We need to do less of the things that we know have a negative impact, such as the use of pesticides and prevent the disappearance of farmland borders full of flowers.