• Q

    Neal, in your view, what are the main takeaways from the Living Planet report?

    A

    The Living Planet Report is a hugely impressive body of work undertaken by more than 125 experts, looking at trends in biodiversity across the planet. The LPR2020 reveals a staggering loss of two-thirds of global wildlife populations on average since 1970. This is a monumental loss of wildlife, caused by human exploitation of the natural world. Urgent action is needed to halt this destruction and preserve what is left.

  • Q

    How does the insect world fit into that picture?

    A

    We are increasingly aware that insect populations are at risk across the world. Humans have been negatively affecting insects throughout the 20th and 21st centuries in so many ways; pesticide use and habitat destruction are just two examples. We still don’t have an accurate picture of just how much insect populations have been changing, and we urgently need to know more.

  • Q

    Why should people care about insect life?

    A

    Insects are a vital part of all ecosystems. These tiny organisms are responsible for the processing of energy and nutrients through food webs – without them, entire systems fail. They process dung, move energy from plants to animals, disperse seeds, pollinate flowers, feed other animals – without diverse and rich insects populations, we face a bleak future.

  • Q

    In the report you argue that more and better data is central to halting the decline in insect populations. Why is this? 

    A

    We know shockingly little about what is happening to insects around the world. There are small snapshots of what is happening from ecosystems across the world, but we still don’t have an accurate picture of global insect populations. We need this information to be able to know what needs to be done to save our insects, and what actions are needed where.

    Some of the recent research into insect population declines has gained a huge amount of attention, but it has unfortunately been methodologically flawed. Although we researchers want to improve our knowledge on insect populations, our work needs to be done to the highest standard. If biases creep into our work of assessing the evidence on insect populations trends, we may end up with a picture that isn’t representative of the real world.

  • Q

    How can we generate better data on insect populations?

    A

    It is vital that we use robust research methods to assess the evidence on insect populations. That is why we are coordinating the EntoGEM project  – an effort to engage a huge community of insect researchers and practitioners in identifying and assessing all research on insect population trends. We are using state-of-the-art, rigorous evidence synthesis methods to assemble a living map of the evidence to support decision-making and research.

  • Q

    What does the future hold for the world’s insect populations?

    A

    If we are able to act now in an efficient way using effective and evidence-based conservation actions, then we may be able to preserve what insect populations are left, and perhaps restore some of our weakest ecosystems. But we must act now. Only with a rigorous understanding of this evidence can we move forwards and try to halt and possibly reverse the destruction and loss of insects globally.