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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

November 2018: A small but growing number of studies show drastic declines in insects such as centipedes and beetles. Declines up to 76 per cent in flying insect populations have knock-on effects such as decreased pollination which jeopardizes food supplies and forest structures.


A small but growing number of long-term studies show drastic declines in insects, including beetles, and centipedes. These studies attribute the declining numbers to climate change, which is having much greater than was recognised previously. Insects are unable to regulate their internal body temperatures and struggle to respond to increasing temperatures. Studies report evidence for declining numbers in German nature preserves and in the Puerto Rican rainforest, indicating that there is no geographical containment, but a more widespread phenomenon.


Invertebrates make up two-thirds of terrestrial species and declines of up to 76 per cent have serious knock-on effects, such as decreased pollination and reduced food availability for species that feed on insects, such as birds and reptiles. This in turn causes the prevalence of plant species to decline, compromises food webs and forest structures, and jeopardises food availability and security.


Lister, B.C., Garcia, A., 2018. Climate-driven declines in arthropod abundance restructure a rainforest food web. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201722477.


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