Climate and land-use changes are main drivers of insect declines, but their combined effects have not yet been quantified over large spatiotemporal scales. We analysed changes in the distribution (mean occupancy of squares) of 390 insect species (butterflies, grasshoppers, dragonflies), using 1.45 million records from across bioclimatic gradients of Switzerland between 1980 and 2020.

We found no overall decline, but strong increases and decreases in the distributions of different species. For species that showed strongest increases (25% quantile), the average proportion of occupied squares increased in 40 years by 0.128 (95% credible interval: 0.123–0.132), which equals an average increase in mean occupancy of 71.3% (95% CI: 67.4–75.1%) relative to their 40-year mean occupancy.

For species that showed strongest declines (25% quantile), the average proportion decreased by 0.0660 (95% CI: 0.0613–0.0709), equalling an average decrease in mean occupancy of 58.3% (95% CI: 52.2–64.4%). Decreases were strongest for narrow-ranged, specialised, and cold-adapted species. Short-term distribution changes were associated to both climate changes and regional land-use changes.

Moreover, interactive effects between climate and regional land-use changes confirm that the various drivers of global change can have even greater impacts on biodiversity in combination than alone. In contrast, 40-year distribution changes were not clearly related to regional land-use changes, potentially reflecting mixed changes in local land use after 1980. Climate warming however was strongly linked to 40-year changes, indicating its key role in driving insect trends of temperate regions in recent decades.

Neff, F., Korner-Nievergelt, F., Rey, E., Albrecht, M., Bollmann, K., Cahenzli, F., Chittaro, Y., Gossner, M. M., Martínez-Núñez, C., Meier, E. S., Monnerat, C., Moretti, M., Roth, T., Herzog, F., & Knop, E. (2022). Different roles of concurring climate and regional land-use changes in past 40 years’ insect trends. Nature Communications, 13(1), 7611.