Over a quarter of Europe’s crickets and grasshoppers are being driven to extinction, scientists say.
The first comprehensive assessment of Europe’s crickets and grasshoppers shows that over a quarter of their populations are being driven to extinction.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), crickets and grasshoppers are the most threatened by extinction in Europe of the insects assessed so far. The IUCN said: “if we don’t act now, the sound of crickets could become a thing of the past.”
Their numbers are reportedly being reduced due to wildfires, intensive agriculture and tourism development.
The assessment, which involved over 150 scientists, took place more than two years ago.
What Happens if they Go Extinct?
Europe has around 1,000 species of grasshopper and cricket. The group “Orthoptera”, which includes crickets, bush crickets and grasshoppers, live on grassland and are an important food source for birds and reptiles. Therefore, a drop in their population numbers and/or extinction would affect the entire ecosystem.
The chair of the IUCN invertebrate conservation sub-committee and lead author of the study, Axel Hochkirch, said: “If we lose grasshoppers and other Orthoptera like crickets and bush crickets, we will lose diversity,” he told BBC News. “They are very good indicators of biodiversity in open ecosystems.”
What Can Be Done?
According to the deputy director of IUCN Global Species Programme, Jean-Christophe Vie, to bring the species’ population up, we need to do more to protect and restore their habitats.
“This can be done through sustainable grassland management using traditional agricultural practices, for example.” he said.
“The results from this IUCN Red List are deeply worrying,” said Luc Bas, director of the IUCN European Regional Office.
The report recommends that we set up a monitoring program all over Europe in order to gather information about population trends in the species.