Profile image
By Alton Parrish (Reporter)
Contributor profile | More stories
Story Views
Last Hour:
Last 24 Hours:

Insect Die-Off: Even Common Species Are Becoming Rare

% of readers think this story is Fact. Add your two cents.
Together with their colleagues from the Senckenberg German Entomological Institute, scientists of Technical University of Munich (TUM) were able to show that currently widespread insects are threatened with a serious decline in species diversity in the near future. The research team lists fragmentation of habitats and intensification of agriculture as reasons for the decline of these “generalists.”

The number of insects continues to decrease – in some regions, a dramatic decline by up to 75 percent has been recorded in recent decades. “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,” explains Professor Dr. Thomas Schmitt, director of the Senckenberg German Entomological Institute, and he continues, “In our recent study, we were able to show that even so-called “ubiquitous species” will be facing massive threats in the future.”

Hawkblossom Polyommatus icarus, one of the most common blue owls with rapidly declining populations. 

Blue-throated Blue Polyommatus icarus, one of the most abundant blue-skinned populations. (Photo: J. Habel / TUM)
Photo: J. Habel/ TUM

In its study, the team of scientists explains that species with low habitat requirements depend on the exchange between different populations. “Our studies clearly show that widespread species have a much more diverse intraspecific gene pool than species that are adapted to a specific habitat,” explains Dr. Jan Christian Habel of the Technical University in Munich, and he continues, “Once these animals – due to the fragmentation of their habitats – lose the opportunity to maintain this genetic diversity by means of exchange, they will no longer be able to adapt to changing environmental conditions in the future.”

The insect researchers from Munich and Müncheberg refer to a “temporal shift in the potential causes for the decline of species.” Initially, it is primarily those insects that specialize in a particular ecosystem, e.g., the Mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo) butterfly, which will be threatened by the loss of high-quality habitats. But over time and with the further deterioration of habitats as well as the collapse of entire habitat networks, the threat to widespread, “undemanding” species such as the Pearly Heath (Coenonympha arcania) also increases.

“In terms of practical nature conservation, these results signify that in the future it will no longer be sufficient to preserve small, isolated reserves – while these benefit specialized species with a simple genetic structure, the bulk of species that depend on an exchange between local populations will lose out in the medium to long term,” predicts Schmitt, and he adds in closing, “This will lead to a further decline of numerous insect species – with dramatic consequences for entire food webs and ecosystems.” 

Contacts and sources:
Dr. Jan Christian Habel
Technical University of Munich
Citaton: Habel JC, Schmitt T: Vanishing of the common species: Empty habitats and the role of genetic diversity. Biological Conservation 1/2018. DOI:

Report abuse


    Your Comments
    Question Razz Sad Evil Exclaim Smile Redface Biggrin Surprised Eek Confused Cool LOL Mad Twisted Rolleyes Wink Idea Arrow Neutral Cry Mr. Green

    Total 3 comments
    • Takealook

      Insect populations including even flies and ants are down 80-95% here in California
      everywhere not just near cities and due to loss of habitat. The situation is far more
      dire than this puff piece article state. Geoengineering the skies with toxic aluminum,
      barium, strontium, and other toxins are much to blame but so is the massive increase
      in UV and ionizing radiation from Fukushima as well as the years of damage to the ozone
      layer. Also look at the enormous EMF radiation blanketing the earth and you have a cocktail
      blend equaling a lifeless planet in the near future. To the delight of many it appears.

    • Pink Slime

      Agreed. I don’t see many insects I saw when I was a kid. Most common birds are gone. Use to see them all over by the dozens everywhere. Canary in the mine?? :eek:

    • Anonymous

      It is predicted that all the water will be polluted in the last day’s along with many other things, it’s all in the ble.




    Email this story
    Email this story

    If you really want to ban this commenter, please write down the reason:

    If you really want to disable all recommended stories, click on OK button. After that, you will be redirect to your options page.