Fundamentally, insects are “the little things that run the world”, (E.O. Wilson, 1987) and this is why the current conversation about insect declines is so necessary. Given that insects outrank all other animals in terms of species, numbers and biomass both worldwide and in Ireland, and that along with other invertebrates they are our pollinators, predators, decomposers, soil engineers and simply food for other animals, changes in their diversity and abundance can have profound consequences for how our landscapes function and human well-being.
Insects play fundamental roles in the ecosystems, so maintaining insect populations is essential. (From Gordon et al. 2019.)
Before the very real concerns about pollinator loss reached the level of public awareness it has today, for most people their perception of conservation involved the protection and restoration of large charismatic vertebrate populations and the spaces they live in. Consequently, a major success of the recent reports of alarming insect declines has been to trigger public attention to their plight and stimulate discussion on the value of insects. However, there have been some mixed messages about the decline and I think it’d be valuable to try and clarify what the science is (and is not) telling us and what I think is needed to capture the changes in Irish insects.
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