Bats, butterflies and bumblebees threatened by an ‘extinction catastrophe’

Bats, butterflies and bumblebees threatened by an ‘extinction catastrophe’
‘Importance of preserving each species cannot be overestimated,’ says Jo Hatton, Horniman Museum’s principal curator of natural sciences

Some of the UK’s best-loved wildlife, from hedgehogs to bats and butterflies to bumblebees, could face extinction within a decade if action is not taken to halt their decline, research suggests.

Four in 10 of the country’s one million insect species are at risk of dying out while numbers of some birds such as the grey partridge and corn bunting are also dwindling.

The ARC 2031research looked at animals which were particularly at risk from pesticide use in farming.

It was produced by experts from the Horniman Museum in south London and has been released by Go Organic to mark the first day of Organic September, a month-long celebration highlighting the benefits of organic food for biodiversity.

The organisation described the current trajectory as an “extinction catastrophe” and said organic farms were home to up to 50 per cent more wildlife and 30 per cent more species.

ARC 2031 ambassador, zoologist and Autumnwatch presenter Megan McCubbin told The Independent: “Every species plays a critical role within an ecosystem and when it comes to farming and agriculture we need to be working with nature and not against it.

“Every species in this list is experiencing some decline or increased threat level because of intensive farming.”

Top of the ARC 2031 list of at risk species is the Grey Partridge, which is on the UK Red list. Numbers have declined by 92 per cent between 1970 and 2005.

Corn Bunting and the Grey Long-Eared Bat are in second and third place. They are both on the UK Red list, with the former having declined 89 per cent between 1970 and 2003.

Hedgehogs, Essex skippers, small skippers, garden bumbleses, hoverflies, necklace ground beetles and hop flea beetles make up the rest of the list.

All of the insects and other animals serve as either pollinators or pest controllers and contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

Jo Hatton, principal curator of natural sciences at the Horniman Museum, said: “If we don’t protect biodiversity, it could have profound consequences.

“The ARC 2031 list reveals 10 species in the UK, under increasing threat, where pesticide use has been implicated in their decline.

“Birds such as the Grey Partridge and butterflies such as the Essex Skipper are vital links in our complex ecosystem food webs and help preserve biodiversity – from natural pest controllers to crucial pollinators, the importance of preserving each species cannot be overestimated. It is vital that we protect them.”


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