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Massive insect loss in Puerto Rico in the context of climate change

Oct 16, 2018

They may not like them in your home, but beetles are vital to ecosystems. And now it seems that insects around the world are in crisis, and it's more serious – and more prevalent – than scientists have realized.

The insect population of a national forest in Puerto Rico is decreasing at an alarming rate, a new study has found. And the crash restructures the food web of the rainforest – and the amount of insectivorous animals has also declined.

The authors of the study cite climate change as the driving force behind the dramatic loss of tropical invertebrates.

While the temperatures in the tropical forests of northeastern Puerto Rico have risen by two degrees Celsius since the mid-1970s, the biomass of arthropods – invertebrates such as insects, millipedes and turnips – has even declined 60-fold Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,

The findings support the recent UN climate change warnings that warn of severe environmental hazards in the face of the global temperature increase of 2.0 degrees Celsius. Like some other tropical locations, the study area in the Luquillo rainforest has already reached or exceeded an average temperature increase of 2.0 degrees Celsius, and the study shows that the consequences may be catastrophic.

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