DRUID:Drivers and Repercussions of UK Insect Declines

Project title

DRUID:Drivers and Repercussions of UK Insect Declines


Professor Lee Brown | School of Geography | University of Leeds
Prof Martin Dallimer | School of Earth and Environment | University of Leeds
Dr Ryan Neely III | School of Earth and Environment | University of Leeds

Insect populations face pressures from multiple drivers including intensified land use, climate change, pollution, and novel pests and pathogens. While these drivers have long been recognized, research into the complex effects of drivers potentially acting in combination is lacking. Despite growing public concern, there is remarkably little hard evidence of general insect declines in the UK or abroad.

DRUID is bringing together the widest possible set of standardised monitoring data with two contrasting sets of more spatially comprehensive data: modelled occupancy and abundance estimates from species records in biodiversity databases, and novel biomass, abundance and morphodiversity estimates from post-processed radar data.

Using these data, DRUID will assess the drivers of change in land and aquatic insect populations and communities and fully quantify the links between these populations and natural resources. Project objectives: · Assess the generality of insect declines across UK taxa · Develop and test mechanistic models based in insect physiology, demography and interactions · Explore how shifts in land and freshwater insect diversity, functional composition and biomass impact on diverse ecosystem functions · Develop and parameterise methods to estimate the role of insects and the ecosystem functions they perform · Model future changes in insect abundance, diversity, function and natural resources · Assemble and calibrate datasets of change in UK insect abundance, diversity, functional roles and biomass over the past 30 years.

Our recent study has uncovered that insect abundance directly impacts songbird numbers from year to year. By bring together data sets from the Rothamsted Insect Survey and the Breeding Bird Survey, we’ve revealed that increased moth populations correlate with increased numbers of blue tits. Read the paper in Ecology Letters.

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