Study: Insects not adequately protected worldwide

Insects not adequately protected worldwide

The Delias Eucharis butterfly is an example of an underrepresented insect species in protected areas. photo

© Shawan Chowdhury/iDiv/dpa

They have six legs and are found everywhere – except for the open sea and the polar regions: insects. But their diversity needs better protection, a new analysis shows.

Insects are not adequately protected from extinction worldwide. This is shown by a study published in the specialist magazine “One Earth”.

A team of researchers studied how insects are represented in protected areas to be protected from threats such as agricultural expansion or road construction. The result: 76 percent of insect species are not sufficiently represented in national parks and other protected areas. The team led by Shawan Chowdhury from the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research based in Halle, Jena and Leipzig also urgently needs to improve this to protect the entire environment.

Researchers: Protected areas must be designed with insect concerns in mind

It is estimated that 80 percent of all animal species are insects. According to the Nature Conservation Union, there are around 33,000 different six-legged friends in Germany. They can be found in most biotopes – only on the open sea and in the polar regions no insects lived. According to the authors of the study, in the past there has been a drastic decline in species, not only in Germany but worldwide. At the same time, the animals were largely overlooked in nature conservation programs.

In the future, protected areas would have to be better designed to meet the needs of insects, the research team demanded. In North America, Eastern Europe, South and Southeast Asia and large parts of Australia, the protection provided by these areas is insufficient for many species. In Central Europe, the animals are somewhat better protected. In some places, certain insect species cannot be found at all in protected areas.

When designating protected areas, the needs of vertebrates played a particularly important role, Chowdhury said: “Their habitat requirements are often very different from those of insects. For a species group that makes up such a large part of the animal kingdom and fulfills a wide range of ecosystem functions , that’s worrying.”


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