A new study finds evidence that climate change is contributing to the collapse of biodiversity throughout the world. After scientists exposed beetles to heat waves, they found that insects produce less sperm and fewer offspring. ( Ron van den Berg Pixabay )
Insects throughout the world are experiencing fertility problems and heat waves caused by climate change must be blamed.
A new study revealed that exposure to heat waves caused damage to the male beetle sperm, making it sterile. This adds to the growing list of the negative effects of climate change on biodiversity.
How Climate Change Cut Insect Populations
"We know that biodiversity suffers under climate change, but specific causes and sensitivities are difficult to explain," explained Matt Gage of the University of East Anglia and leader of the research group. "We have shown in this work that sperm function is a very sensitive trait when the environment heats up, and in a model system that represents a large number of global biodiversity."
This research uses red flour beetles and exposes them to standard control conditions or heat wave temperatures. After that, the researchers assessed how heat waves affect the reproductive success of insects, including sperm function and the quality of their offspring.
They found that after being exposed to heat waves, the sperm production of male beetles decreased by three quarters. In addition, they found that sperm from male beetles struggled to move to the female beetle ducts. That is, there is a greater possibility that sperm do not survive to fertilize the egg.
In addition, this study also revealed that exposure to heat waves causes male beetles to mate more often, contributing to a potential decline in species populations.
The researchers used beetles as test subjects because there were around 400,000 insect species around the world. Beetles constitute 25 percent of all known animal species.
Lasting Effects Of Heatwave Exposure
Perhaps more concerning, exposure to heat waves has a long-term effect on the lifespan and reproductive activity of beetle offspring. Children of male beetles exposed to heat waves for life experiments are several months shorter than average. They are also able to fertilize far fewer beetles and produce fewer of their own offspring.
It has been suggested that climate change is driving the collapse of insect biodiversity throughout the world, but how it affects biodiversity is still poorly understood. The researchers hope that further research must be carried out on whether climate change is a factor in the massive decline in insect populations around the world.
This study was published in the journal Nature Communication.
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