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Episode
20

Insect Population Collapse with Dr Francisco Sanchez-Bayo

Show Notes

The topic of today has an importance in our lives than most of us may be unaware of. Today we're talking about global insect populations. While these creepy crawlies may inspire disgust in some of us, the value insects bring to the natural world, and of course, to our world cannot be understated — they are inextricable, vital components of our global ecosystem, and the existence of up to 40% of insect species is threatened.

Joining me in this episode to talk about this ecological catastrophe is scientist Dr. Francicso Sanchez-Bayo.

Francisco is an environmental scientist and ecologist at the University of Sydney. He focuses on the the risk assessment of pesticide contaminants on organisms, particularly their affects on birds and aquatic ecosystems, and the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment. He's been the author or co-author of over 80 articles and book chapters — one of which is the focus of today's discussion.

Earlier this year he published a paper titled: Worldwide decline of the entomofauna: A review of its drivers. The beginning of the abstract reads:

Biodiversity of insects is threatened worldwide. Here, we present a comprehensive review of 73 historical reports of insect declines from across the globe, and systematically assess the underlying drivers. Our work reveals dramatic rates of decline that may lead to the extinction of 40% of the world's insect species over the next few decades.

The report states that main drivers of the population decline are intensive agriculture, pollution and climate change.

Speaking to ABC television in Australia, Dr Sanchez-Bayo said: “We are not alarmists, we are realists. We are experiencing the sixth mass extinction on Earth. If we destroy the basis of the ecosystem, which are the insects, then we destroy all the other animals that rely on them for a food source.

“It will collapse altogether and that’s why we think it’s not dramatic, it’s a reality.”

Heavy stuff.

In my discussion with Franscico, we explore

  • The roles insects play in the web of life
  • The details of global insect population collapse and a deeper dive into the drivers behind it.
  • The relationship between environmental complexity and resiliency
  • What is integrated pest management and why it's a vital method for sustainable agriculture, among other things.

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