Insects hit by changing land use

9 August 2000

Insects hit by changing land use

By FWi staff

CHANGING land use patterns over the past century have led to the loss of one in five species of insects in parts of Britain, claim scientists.

Entomologists at Oxford University found that in Warwickshire many species of bee dragonfly, butterfly and beetle have not been seen for years.

The survey by Darren Mann at the University Museum in Oxford was commissioned by the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

Peter Hammond, a research entomologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said drastic changes in land use were the main cause of the decline.

These included draining of the Fens and the Somerset levels, digging up hedgerows and replacing deciduous woodland with conifers, he told The Independent.

Dr Hammond said insecticides had played a lesser role than loss of habitat in the decline.

Meanwhile, an Oxford University survey of a Cambridgeshire farm found only one bat because there were no insects to feed on.

Dr Chris O Toole told the Daily Express that the loss of bees threatened pollination worth 200m a year and threatened whole sectors of farming.

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