A growing body of recent evidence highlights population declines in insects and other invertebrates at global scales, the consequences of which are potentially catastrophic. Kent Wildlife Trust’s Bugs Matter Survey points to similar results with 50% fewer insects recorded in Kent since 2004. Insects are a critical component of ecosystems and animal life is at risk. Without them, life on earth would simply collapse.
Kent Wildlife Trust is running a Heritage Lottery funded project, ‘Bugs Matter’, which aims to develop better understanding of what is happening in our environment, and how to measure landscape-scale outcomes of conservation work.
One aim of the project is to measure ecosystem function – the resources and services provided by animals, plants, and the environment, and the way they interact with each other and benefit society.
The project used an innovative insect sampling method conducted by members of the public to assess the difference in insect abundance in Kent, South East England at two points in a 15 year timeframe. The technique was first trialed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Dr Paul Tinsley-Marshall, Conservation Evidence Manager at Kent Wildlife Trust said: “The methodology is based on the ‘windscreen phenomenon’, a term given to the observation that people tend to find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars now, compared to several decades ago. This effect has been ascribed to major global declines in insect abundance.”
Using a standardised sampling grid termed a ‘splatometer’, members of the public were asked to record the number of insects squashed on their car registration plate.