SciCafe: The Urgent Science of Insect Decline

Part of SciCafe

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Two easter lubber grasshoppers, each about 3" in length, resting on a large leaf. Their bodies are colored in hues of orange, brown and black. © AMNH/D. Finnin
Insects account for 80 percent of animal life on our planet, and they are critical to the survival of most other animals–including bats, birds, freshwater fishes, and humans.  

But there’s substantial evidence that insects are declining in both abundance and diversity, posing a looming threat to nature’s ecosystems. In this SciCafe, join five biologists who are urgently working to study and combat this decline.  

Our presenters include David Wagner, professor of ecology and evolutionary behavior at the University of Connecticut, Christie Bahlai, assistant professor of biological sciences at Kent State, Chris Elphick, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Connecticut, Eliza Grames, assistant professor of biological sciences at Binghamton University, and Jessica Ware, curator in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology, who are part of a group of researchers who have been awarded a five-year Research Coordination Network grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation to study this vital topic. 

Find out how this team is exploring the magnitude and patterns of decline, identifying the primary causes and consequences for ecosystem function and human welfare, and working to develop policy recommendations to mitigate and reverse the losses. The program will be held in the Cullman Hall of the Universe, with special access to the new Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium, which opened as part of the Museum’s new Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation in May.  

Resources for SciCafe’s Frequent Geeks 

Quick Pick: The collapse of Insects

Big Bite: Insect decline in the Anthropocene: Death by a thousand cuts

Deep Dive: Missing the bigger picture: Why insect monitoring programs are limited in their ability to document the effects of habitat loss 

Additional Resources  

To find out more about imperiled insect species, visit the Museum's exhibition Extinct and Endangered: Insects in Peril, now on view.