The society's collection and archive are under historical preservation protection. Tens of millions more insects float in carefully labeled bottles of alcohol—the yield from the society's monitoring projects in nature reserves around the region. The reserves, set aside for their local ecological value, are not pristine wilderness but "seminatural" habitats, such as former hay meadows, full of wildflowers, birds, small mammals—and insects. Some even include parts of agricultural fields, which farmers are free to farm with conventional methods.
Heinz Schwan, a retired chemist and longtime society member who has weighed thousands of trap samples, says the society began collecting long-term records of insect abundance partly by chance.
In the late s and early s, local authorities asked the group for help evaluating how different strategies for managing the reserves affected insect populations and diversity. The members monitored each site only once every few years, but they set up identical insect traps in the same place each time to ensure clean comparisons. Because commercially available traps vary in ways that affect the catch, the group makes their own.
Black mesh fabric forms the base, topped by a tent of white fabric and, at the summit, a collection container—a plastic jar with an opening into another jar of alcohol. Insects trapped in the fabric fly up to the jar, where the vapors gradually inebriate them and they fall into the alcohol.
The traps collect mainly species that fly a meter or so above the ground. For people who worry that the traps themselves might deplete insect populations, Sorg notes that each trap catches just a few grams per day—equivalent to the daily diet of a shrew. Sorg says society members saved all the samples because even in the s they recognized that each represented a snapshot of potentially intriguing insect populations.
I chose my square meter based mostly on convenience easy to get to but also made sure it had a couple plant species in it that I thought would attract insects. Population Threats: While the Texas rat snake tends to do well in cultivated areas, intensive development of the native landscape reduces the habitat available to them and more often brings them into close contact with humans. Population Threats: None identified. Even in reserves where plant diversity and abundance have improved, Sorg says, "the insect numbers still plunged. Posted by tiwane 3 months ago Flag. Will also eat berries and small fruits especially in winter , and some seeds.
Many samples have not yet been sorted and cataloged—a painstaking labor of love done with tweezers and a microscope. Nor have the group's full findings been published. But some of the data are emerging piecemeal in talks by society members and at a hearing at the German Bundestag, the national parliament, and they are unsettling. Beyond the striking drop in overall insect biomass, the data point to losses in overlooked groups for which almost no one has kept records.
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In the Krefeld data, hover flies—important pollinators often mistaken for bees—show a particularly steep decline. In , the group's traps in one reserve collected 17, hover flies from species. In , at the same locations, they found only individuals from species.
Since their initial findings in , the group has installed more traps each year. Working with researchers at several universities, society members are looking for correlations with weather, changes in vegetation, and other factors. No simple cause has yet emerged. Even in reserves where plant diversity and abundance have improved, Sorg says, "the insect numbers still plunged. Researchers in Germany hope to develop a set of automated sensors that will monitor the abundance and diversity of plants, animals, and fungi with the help of pattern recognition and DNA and chemical analysis.
Changes in land use surrounding the reserves are probably playing a role. Increased fertilizer on remaining grazing lands favors grasses over the diverse wildflowers that many insects prefer.
And when development replaces countryside, streets and buildings generate light pollution that leads nocturnal insects astray and interrupts their mating. Neonicotinoid pesticides, already implicated in the widespread crash of bee populations, are another prime suspect. Introduced in the s, they are now the world's most popular insecticides, initially viewed as relatively benign because they are often applied directly to seeds rather than sprayed. But because they are water soluble, they don't stay put in the fields where they are used.
Goulson and his colleagues reported in that nectar and pollen from wildflowers next to treated fields can have higher concentrations of neonicotinoids than the crop plants. Although initial safety studies showed that allowable levels of the compounds didn't kill honey bees directly, they do affect the insects' abilities to navigate and communicate, according to later research.
Researchers found similar effects in wild solitary bees and bumble bees. Less is known about how those chemicals affect other insects, but new studies of parasitoid wasps suggest those effects could be significant. Those solitary wasps play multiple roles in ecosystems—as pollinators, predators of other insects, and prey for larger animals.
A team from the University of Regensburg in Germany reported in Scientific Reports in February that exposing the wasp Nasonia vitripennis to just 1 nanogram of one common neonicotinoid cut mating rates by more than half and decreased females' ability to find hosts. No one can prove that the pesticides are to blame for the decline, however.
The group has tried to find out what kinds of pesticides are used in fields near the reserves, but that has proved difficult, he says. Taking pictures of wild plants and animals. It can be any plant, animal, or any other evidence of life found in your city. Take a picture of what you find.
Be sure to note the location of the critter or plant. Skip to content. City Nature Challenge Cities around the world will be competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species, and engage the most people in the City Nature Challenge. Thousands of people from across the globe will get outside to look for nature in their cities!
Most take place on the water's surface, when the squid is injured or dying. The project was organised by a team of international scientists who launched a submersible vehicle off the coast of Japan. With a bit of bait and a lot of luck, an animal appeared in front of their cameras. While it lacks elephants, tropical South America is still a land of giant animals. The continent is home to the biggest members of the armadillo and anteater families, as well as the capybara, the world's largest rodent.
In the rivers east of the Andes lives the giant otter.
Twice the size of the next biggest member of its family, the giant otter can reach 2m 6. While giant otters can deal with natural predators such as caiman and jaguars, they have fallen victim to man. They are described as sociable and curious, and this gregarious character has made them a target for hunters. The thick pelt was once highly sought after, with devastating consequences.
The trade was banned in but now the remaining animals are threatened by increasing human settlement in their Amazonian habitat. Conflict arises with fishermen, and mismanaged tourism is also having an impact, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Populations in the protected Pantanal wetland are thought to have recovered, but it remains to be seen how the otters will cope with the rising human population. If you measure spider size by leg span, the largest reaches 30cm 1 ft across and goes by the worrying name "giant huntsman spider".
Fortunately, it confines its predatory activities to insects. You're unlikely to see one scurrying across your carpet, unless you've set up home in a cave in Laos. Even there it would now be a rare sight. Heteropoda maxima made headlines among arachnophobes and -philes alike when it was discovered in by Dr Peter Jaegar of Johannes Gutenberg-University in Mainz, Germany.
Jaegar says the resulting attention has been bad news for the spider, due to unregulated demand by the pet trade. He suggests that for every spiders imported as pets, more may have perished when removed from their homes.
He says the spiders survive for little more than a year outside of the controlled climate of their caves. Looking very much like an enormous sea serpent, the giant oarfish is extremely flat and undulates through the water like a wide silver ribbon. Its long pelvic fins look like oars and it has a distinctive red crest. But the most remarkable thing about the oarfish is its extreme length.
Measured at up to 17m 56 ft , it is the world's longest bony fish.
Despite its massive size, the giant oarfish remains quite mysterious. It lives in the deep ocean alongside other giant species. It's not clear why deep-dwelling species are often so big: low temperatures, high pressure, a lack of currents or a scarcity of food have all been put forward as explanations. Because of its deep-dwelling habits, the giant oarfish is a rare sight. In recent years, unmanned submersibles have managed to film it in its natural environment, but very few people have seen a healthy one in the flesh. Giant oarfish only appear at the surface when dead or injured. Where one washes in to shore, it is usually photographed being held aloft by large groups of people to show its relative size.
In June , Santa Catalina Island off the coast of California hosted its third giant oarfish in as many years when a 5.