In the UK, thousands of volunteer motorists are confirming the decline in pest numbers

In the UK, thousands of volunteer motorists are confirming the decline in pest numbers

Estimates follow each other and all point to the same observation: the massive and rapid decline of the insect population in Europe is a possible predictor of an unimaginable environmental catastrophe. Kent published the results of the Wildlife Foundation and the Invertebrate Conservation Trust (or “Bucklife”). Study About 60% of flying insects in the UK became extinct between 2004 and 2021. This is not just a problem for entomologists: in addition to their intrinsic value, insects are one of the sites in the food chain of terrestrial ecosystems, pollinating crops and recycling nutrients into the soil.

Despite the particular strike, such a decline in seventeen years did not surprise scientists. This is in line with the scale of the results obtained in recent years in other Western European countries. The originality of the work, which was run by two British foundations, is in their protocol: teachers led by ecologists Lawrence Paul and Paul Dinsley-Marshall of the Kent Wildlife Foundation used data obtained and transmitted by thousands of volunteer motorists through their smartphones. .

The principle is simple. The use of Bucks Matter allows volunteers to calculate the number of insect impacts on their vehicle license plate during a trip. Volunteers fill out the type of vehicle and make sure their tray is clean before departure, and the application will include the characteristics of the trip (start and end points, average speed, crossing terrain, type of roads taken, time and date of travel, weather, etc.). Upon arrival, a photo of the small frame – or “splash meter” (Splatometer, In English) – The pre-license plate is attached, allowing you to count the number of insects attacked during the voyage. What “Clean Windshield Syndrome” objectifies is that it increasingly plagues motorists – especially those of a certain age.

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However, the program is not running consistently and there are only three measurement points. In 2004, data from nearly 15,000 trips were collected, covering nearly 1.4 million kilometers, or 200,000 insects. Compared to data obtained in 2019 and 2021, the average number of invertebrates per kilometer is about 600 journeys of 16,000 kilometers and 3,300 journeys, respectively, representing about 195,000 kilometers of UK roads. In 2004, the license plate attacked an average of 0.15 insects per kilometer, up from 0.062 in 2019 and 2021.

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