2 million insect species at risk of extinction

Study scaled

A recent study has revealed that two million species face the threat of extinction, a number that doubles the previous estimations made by the United Nations. While there has been substantial documentation about the decline of various plants and vertebrates, uncertainty emerged over insect populations. The UN estimated that 10% of insects were in danger of extinction in 2019. However, more recent data indicates a considerably higher proportion of endangered insect species, effectively doubling the global count of species at risk.

The scarcity of insect population data has made understanding their global status challenging, despite invertebrates constituting 97% of all animals, with insects representing about 90% of this group. Insects play crucial roles in ecosystems by pollinating crops, aiding in nutrient recycling, and waste decomposition. We can even say that the survival of our planet is dependent on insects.

The study, published in Plos One magazine, analysed all European species listed as threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Around one-fifth of European species were found to be at risk of extinction, with 24% of invertebrates, 27% of plants, and 18% of vertebrates in danger. These findings were extrapolated to estimate the total number of species at risk globally.

The main driver behind these declines is human activity, primarily the expansion of agriculture leading to the loss of natural habitats, followed by resource overexploitation, pollution, and urban development. The study shows the positive impact of conservation efforts, citing the resurgence of large predators like wolves, lynxes, bears, and white-tailed eagles in Europe as evidence that such actions can make a difference.

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