Young BE, Auer S, Ormes M, Rapacciuolo G, Schweitzer D, Sears N

Increasing attention to pollinators and their role in providing ecosystem services has revealed a paucity of studies on long-term population trends of most insect pollinators in many parts of the world. Because targeted monitoring programs are resource intensive and unlikely to be performed on most insect pollinators, we took advantage of existing collection records to examine long-term trends in northeastern United States populations of 26 species of hawk moths (family Sphingidae) that are presumed to be pollinators. We found that of the 22 species for which there was sufficient data to assess population trends, eight species declined and four species increased in occurrence. Hawk moth declines may have ecological effects on both the plants pollinated by these species and vertebrate predators of the moths.

PLoS ONE 12: e0185683

Keywords: population change, declines, natural history collections, museum, detection bias, hawk moths, pollinators

The Silence of Bugs, New York Times Opinion