37% of European hoverflies are in danger of extinction

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37% of all hoverfly species (hoverflies) in Europe are in danger of extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) European Red List of hoverflies, the first assessment of the risk of decline of these pollinating insects in Europe.

The register, prepared by the IUCN, has identified up to 314 of the 890 species that exist in Europe in the categories vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered, which also implies a risk for food security, since the hoverflies are the second most important group of pollinators in the world after bees.

This paper also identifies intensive livestock farming as the most common threat to hoverflies in the European region, affecting 475 species, more than half of the total. Unsustainable practices mentioned include habitat degradation due to overgrazing by livestock and fragmentation of natural and semi-natural habitats, such as loss of old trees due to factors such as unsustainable commercial forestry.

Other Threats for hoverflies

The use of pesticides -which affects at least 55 species in the region-, urban development and climate change are other important threats that have been identified. According to the study, more than a quarter of the species assessed (244) were specifically affected by climate change and by the increase in the frequency of fires since, by removing dead wood and old trees, the larvae are seen forced to move to new areas.

IUCN Director General, Bruno Oberle, explained in a press release that “This first assessment highlights the immense diversity of hoverflies and their fundamental role in our food and agricultural systems, which are one of the main causes of their decline”. Oberlé added that “To change their destiny, all economic sectors, especially agriculture, must be urgently transformed to be sustainable and positive for nature”.

habitat defense

The conservation organization advocates area-specific measures to protect their key habitats – such as wetlands, old-growth forests and semi-natural habitats outside officially protected areas – and support for sustainable agricultural practices that are beneficial to the species, such as the planting of fields. with wildflowers or hedge restoration.

“The most urgent thing is to protect old trees that contain cavities in the trunk, holes, sap flows, fallen branches and tree stumps”pointed Francois Gilbert, Co-Chair of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Hoverfly Specialist Group, “Since they act as microhabitats where some larvae of a wide range of species feed, many of which are also threatened”.

The most endangered species are those of the Alps and the Pyrenees, so “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as well as restoring ecosystems, will be key to combating this threat”depending on the organization. This assessment, requested and funded by the European Commission, takes an important step in the execution of the European Union’s Pollinators Initiative and contributes to the objectives of the European Green Deal, details the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ( IUCN).

Character font: EFE GREEN

Reference article: https://efeverde.com/sirfidos-pollinadores-europa-peligro-extincion/

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