Are insects declining and at what rate? An analysis of standardised, systematic catches of aphid and moth abundances across Great Britain

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Bell, J. R., Blumgart, D. and Shortall, C. R. 2020. Are insects declining and at what rate? An analysis of standardised, systematic catches of aphid and moth abundances across Great Britain. Insect Conservation and Diversity. 13 (2), pp. 115-126.

AuthorsBell, J. R., Blumgart, D. and Shortall, C. R.
Abstract

1. Although we have known anecdotally that insects have been declining in Great Britain for more than 100 years, insect declines have only been statistically estimated
over the last 20 years. Estimation of the rate of those declines is still hotly debated,fuelled by a lack of standardised, systematically collected data.
2. More than 24 million individual moths and aphids collected from 112 light traps and 25 12.2 m suction-traps, respectively, were analysed using mixed models. Our
objective was to estimate the long-term trends in both groups based on annual totals
recorded every year between 1969 and 2016.
3. The models showed that two paradigms existed: Over 47 years, long-term linear trends showed that moths had declined significantly by −31%, but short-term trends indicated
that there were periods of significant decline and recovery in most decades since the 1960s. Conversely, despite aphid annual totals fluctuating widely, this group was in a
steady state over the long-term, with a non-significant decline of −7.6%. Sensitivity analysis revealed that moth trends were not driven by a group of abundant species, but the sign of the overall aphid trends may have been driven by three of the most abundant
species.
4. The spatial extent of moth trends suggests that they are extremely heterogeneous.Uniquely, moth declines were different among several habitat types, with robust significant declines found in coastal, urban and woodland habitats, but notably not in agricultural,parkland and scrubland habitats. Conversely, aphid trends showed spatial synchrony extending to 338 km, albeit with local variation.

KeywordsAphids poptrend; Insect conservation; Light traps; Mgcv; Moths; Poptrend; Suction traps
Year of Publication2020
JournalInsect Conservation and Diversity
Journal citation13 (2), pp. 115-126
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1111/icad.12412
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Insect Survey - National Capability [2017-2022]
Publisher's version
Supplemental file
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online04 Mar 2020, 14:00
Publication process dates
Accepted12 Feb 2020
PublisherWiley
ISSN1752-458X

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