Azara Blog: Moths apparently in decline in Britain

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Date published: 2006/02/20

The BBC says:

The British moth population is in rapid decline, according to the most comprehensive study of its kind.

A report by Butterfly Conservation says the number of common moths has fallen by a third since 1968.

This has serious implications for animals such as birds and bats which feed on moths, says the UK charity.

It also raises concerns about the state of Britain's natural heritage since moths are an important indicator of biodiversity.

"It's very bad news indeed," said study author Richard Fox. "Moths are a huge group, they are a really significant part of our biodiversity.

"If we are finding these declines amongst such a major group as the moths, then it is a very, very clear signal that British biodiversity as a whole is suffering similar rates of decline."

The Butterfly Conservation report focussed on Britain's larger moths - 337 species that are regularly captured and studied at hundreds of sites across the UK.

Much of the data came from a nationwide network of moth traps maintained by the scientific institute Rothamsted Research since 1968.

The report found that:

Scientists have yet to pinpoint why moth numbers are falling so rapidly. But they say habitat destruction, pesticides, pollution and climate change are the main suspects.

Well given that the "main suspects" cover just about anything you can imagine, it's certainly likely to be some combination of these. Evidently more research is needed.

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