Plague of Absence: Insect Declines and The Fate of Ecosystems

In November of 2017, a group of researchers published a paper showing that since the 1980s, insect populations in protected areas in Germany have decreased by over 75 percent. The decline, dubbed by one reporter the “insect armageddon,” was widespread, affecting sites on nature reserves across the country. It was also indiscriminate, affecting not just certain species, but overall biomass. In the following years, similar studies from Greenland, Puerto Rico, and locations in North America have also shown declines in number of insect species, abundance, and habitat. These declines have serious implications for ecosystems and for humans, some of which we can already see in effect, and some that scientists can’t even predict to their full extent. This thesis will profile a research team in Costa Rica who are using caterpillar-parasitoid interactions to make estimates about insect population health, and explore the reasons for and extent of insect declines and their consequences for humans.


Eva Frederick

About Eva Frederick

Eva spent the long afternoons of her childhood in Sheffield, England, collecting snails from under the rocks at the bottom of her garden. The oldest daughter of an archaeologist and a writer, Eva was raised to value both science and storytelling, and often combined the two. Under her guidance, the snails’ everyday lives became thrilling exploits which she often related to friends, family, or anyone who would listen. These first experiences sparked her interest in communicating her enthusiasm about science and the natural world. Though still an avid snail fan, Eva’s interests have broadened considerably since her rainy English childhood. Eva went on to major in journalism and biology at The University of Texas at Austin, where she made a brief foray into research, studying bacteria living in honeybees’ guts. Her junior year, she began working at UT’s school newspaper, The Daily Texan, and co-founded the Science & Technology section, later serving as managing editor. Since then, Eva has interned with Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine, where she crafted stories about Texas animals and ghost towns, and also with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where she taught kids about bugs, birds, and native plants. In her free time, Eva enjoys hiking, making plant-themed cupcakes, and growing tomato plants in her hydroponic garden. Eva hopes to use her career to make science more accessible to the public and increase scientific literacy. You can follow her on Twitter @EvaCharlesAnna. Thesis: Plague of Absence: Insect Declines and The Fate of Ecosystems


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