"This decrease has always been suspected but has turned out to be more severe than previously thought".
"The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery", said Hans de Kroon, an ecologist at Radboud University who led the new research.
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Countless insects living in every corner of the world, prevents to conduct such calculations directly, so scientists conducting them, installing special traps in the national parks and counting the number of insects that fall in them for a certain period of time. Vaguely resembling a mesh tent, the traps act like a funnel, and as insects collide with the trap's wall, they fly upwards and are directed into a cylinder where they are captured.
"This study lumps all flying insects together", she said, which gives researchers a more accurate picture of the overall decline. They found a seasonal decline of 76% and a mid-summer drop of 82%, which showed them that the decline was happening regardless of the insects' habitat. According to Caspar Hallmann (Radboud University), who performed the statistical analyses, "All these areas are protected and majority are managed nature reserves". The "dramatic decline" in insects, as the scientists described it, was likely caused by the expansion of agriculture and pesticide use, as well as possibly climate change - and is representative of what researchers are seeing in ecosystems across the globe. Instead, the researchers hypothesise that larger-scale factors must be involved, such as pesticides and agricultural intensification. These surrounding areas inflict flying insects and they can not survive there. The authors called for further research into the possible reasons for the decline, noting that flying insects play an important role in pollinating plants and are a source of food for other species. "As entire ecosystems are dependent on insects for food and as pollinators, it places the decline of insect eating birds and mammals in a new context".