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Revisiting global trends in freshwater insect biodiversity


Abstract

A recent global meta‐analysis reported a decrease in terrestrial but increase in freshwater insect abundance and biomass (van Klink et al., Science 368, p. 417). The authors suggested that water quality has been improving, thereby challenging recent reports documenting drastic global declines in freshwater biodiversity. We raise two major concerns with the meta‐analysis and suggest that these account for the discrepancy with the declines reported elsewhere. First, total abundance and biomass alone are poor indicators of the status of freshwater insect assemblages, and the observed differences may well have been driven by the replacement of sensitive species with tolerant ones. Second, many of the datasets poorly represent global trends and reflect responses to local conditions or nonrandom site selection. We conclude that the results of the meta‐analysis should not be considered indicative of an overall improvement in the condition of freshwater ecosystems.

Abstract

A recent global meta‐analysis reported a decrease in terrestrial but increase in freshwater insect abundance and biomass (van Klink et al., Science 368, p. 417). The authors suggested that water quality has been improving, thereby challenging recent reports documenting drastic global declines in freshwater biodiversity. We raise two major concerns with the meta‐analysis and suggest that these account for the discrepancy with the declines reported elsewhere. First, total abundance and biomass alone are poor indicators of the status of freshwater insect assemblages, and the observed differences may well have been driven by the replacement of sensitive species with tolerant ones. Second, many of the datasets poorly represent global trends and reflect responses to local conditions or nonrandom site selection. We conclude that the results of the meta‐analysis should not be considered indicative of an overall improvement in the condition of freshwater ecosystems.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Physical Sciences > Water Science and Technology
Physical Sciences > Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Physical Sciences > Oceanography
Life Sciences > Aquatic Science
Physical Sciences > Ocean Engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords:freshwater ecosystems, insect abundance, long-term research, threats
Language:English
Date:31 December 2020
Deposited On:05 Feb 2021 15:37
Last Modified:06 Feb 2021 21:03
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:2049-1948
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/wat2.1506

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