Scientists from the Senckenberg Nature Research Society and the Technical University in Munich have found that widespread insects will start to decline due to a lack of species diversity in the future.
According to the study, published in the journal, Biological Conservation, the reasons behind this decline are due to habitat fragmentation and the intensification of agriculture. More so, researchers claim that there will be a sharp decline in butterfly species in the future, causing insect species to become more sensitive to environmental changes.
The number of insect species in the past decade was reported to have decreased by a whopping 75 percent in some regions.
“ Until now, we assumed that it is primarily the specialists among the insects, i.e., animals that depend on a specific habitat, that are threatened with extinction,” said Professor Dr. Thomas Schmitt, director of the Senckenberg German Entomological Institute in Müncheberg h
This recent study shows that even the “so-called ‘ubiquitous species’” will be threatened in the future, Professor Schmitt added.
Researchers explain that species that do not have high habitat requirements rely on the exchange between different populations.
Dr. Jan Christian Habel of the Technical University in Munich, states that widespread species have a very diverse intraspecific gene pool than species which have adapted to a specific habitat. He notes that once these widespread species are no longer able to keep this “genetic diversity” via exchange, they will lose the ability to overcome environmental changes.
The researchers point out to a “temporal shift” as one of the potential causes for the decline of species. They believe that insects which specialize in a particular ecosystem (such as the Mountain Apollo butterfly) will be threatened by the loss of high-quality habitats. Once these top-tier environments deteriorate, then other less demanding habitats will start to fragment. Thus, the threat of “undemanding” species such as the Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania) will begin to increase.
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