Is the insect apocalypse upon us? How to find out
Abstract In recent decades, entomologists have documented alarming declines in occurrence, taxonomic richness, and geographic range of insects around the world. Additionally, some recent studies have reported that insect abundance and biomass, often of common species, are rapidly declining, which has led some to dub the phenomenon an “Insect Apocalypse”. Recent reports are sufficiently robust to justify immediate actions to protect insect biodiversity worldwide. We caution, however, that we do not yet have the data to assess large-scale spatial patterns in the severity of insect trends. Most documented collapses are from geographically restricted studies and, alone, do not allow us to draw conclusions about insect declines on continental or global scales, especially with regards to future projections of total insect biomass, abundance, and extinction. There are many challenges to understanding insect declines: only a small fraction of insect species have had any substantial population monitoring, millions of species remain unstudied, and most of the long-term population data for insects come from human-dominated landscapes in western and northern Europe. But there are still concrete steps we can take to improve our understanding of potential declines. Here, we review the challenges scientists face in documenting insect population and diversity trends, including communicating their findings, and recommend research approaches needed to address these challenges.