Insect taxonomy expertise in Europe may be at risk, says new study
According to a new report, the number of scientists who specialise in the identification and discovery of insect species — also known as insect taxonomists — is dwindling across Europe
Insect numbers around the world are facing a serious decline due to the twin threats of climate change and habitat loss. But now it has come to light that the experts who recognise the species and their biodiversity are not safe either.
According to a new report, the number of scientists who specialise in the identification and discovery of insect species — also known as insect taxonomists — is dwindling across Europe.
The analysis was compiled by the European organisation of Natural History Museums, Botanic Gardens and Research Centers CETAF, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Pensoft.
Insects play a significant role in the functioning of healthy ecosystems and human well-being. By providing vital services such as pollination, matter decomposition, and bio-control, they greatly influence the living world. Therefore, the ability and expertise to recognise insect species and biodiversity are fundamental for their conservation.
However, there is increasing concern regarding our capacity to identify insects and describe and name new insect species. The report was based on a quantitative analysis of taxonomic papers published in scientific journals during the last decade, as well as an online questionnaire.
Europe has been losing taxonomic expertise at a high rate. At the moment, 41.4 per cent of the insect orders are not covered by a sufficient number of scientists, the report found.
If only EU countries are counted, the figure looks only slightly more positive with 34.5 per cent. Even the four largest insect orders- Beetles (Coleoptera), moths and butterflies (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera) and wasps, bees, ants and sawflies (Hymenoptera) are only adequately ‘covered’ in a fraction of the countries.
This would further affect conservation efforts and would pave way for more eradication of the species. The report called the society at large to acknowledge the role of taxonomy and support its sustainability in the long term.
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