There has been a lot of attention lately to whether there is a long-term towards declining insect abundance across the world. This week we catch up with Dr. Tyson Wepprich who recently reported on butterfly abundance declines in Ohio over the past 20 years.
Dr. Wepprich is an entomologist who researches insect populations, phenology, and adaptations to climate. At OSU, he works with Fritzi Grevstad and Len Coop on the management of invasive weeds with biocontrol insects. Previously, he was at NC State University, where he worked on habitat restoration for an endangered butterfly, but realized he was a better statistician than field biologist. He switched projects in graduate school to analyze data from long-term monitoring of butterflies in Ohio. He still work on butterflies and how they can tell us about the health of insect communities and about insect adaptations to environmental changes. What he has learned from butterflies informs both his current job and his knowledge about how pollinators may fare in the future. Butterflies, other pollinators, and biocontrol beetles all have life cycles that depend on the climate. He is especially interested if increases in the number of generations insects attempt with longer growing seasons will be beneficial for their populations or not.
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Hallmann, C. A., Sorg, M., Jongejans, E., Siepel, H., Hofland, N., Schwan, H., … & Goulson, D. (2017). More than 75 percent decline over 27 years in total flying insect biomass in protected areas. PloS one, 12(10), e0185809.
Favorite Pollinator: Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)