Insect decline in forests depends on species’ traits and may be mitigated by management

Staab, Michael
Gossner, Martin M.
Simons, Nadja K.
Achury, Rafael
Ambarlı, Didem
Bae, Soyeon
Schall, Peter
Weisser, Wolfgang W.
Blüthgen, Nico
Insects are declining, but the underlying drivers and differences in responses between species are still largely unclear. Despite the importance of forests, insect trends therein have received little attention. Using 10 years of standardized data (120,996 individuals; 1,805 species) from 140 sites in Germany, we show that declines occurred in most sites and species across trophic groups. In particular, declines (quantified as the correlation between year and the respective community response) were more consistent in sites with many non-native trees or a large amount of timber harvested before the onset of sampling. Correlations at the species level depended on species’ life-history. Larger species, more abundant species, and species of higher trophic level declined most, while herbivores increased. This suggests potential shifts in food webs possibly affecting ecosystem functioning. A targeted management, including promoting more natural tree species composition and partially reduced harvesting, can contribute to mitigating declines.
Communications Biology
Citation Formats
M. Staab et al., “Insect decline in forests depends on species’ traits and may be mitigated by management,” Communications Biology, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 0–0, 2023, Accessed: 00, 2023. [Online]. Available: