Recently, a plethora of studies reporting insect declines has been published. Even though the common theme is decreasing insect richness, positive trends have also been documented.

Here, we analysed nationwide, systematic monitoring data on aquatic insect richness collected at 438 sites in Switzerland from 2010 to 2019. In addition to taxonomic richness, we grouped taxa in accordance with their ecological preferences and functional traits to gain a better understanding of trends and possible underlying mechanisms.

We found that in general, richness of aquatic insects remained stable or increased with time. Warm-adapted taxa, common feeding guilds and pesticide-tolerant taxa showed increasing patterns while cold-adapted, rarer feeding guilds and pesticide-sensitive taxa displayed stable trends. Both climate and land-use-related factors were the most important explanatory variables for the patterns of aquatic insect richness.

Although our data cover the last decade only, our results suggest that recent developments in insect richness are context-dependent and affect functional groups differently. However, longer investigations and a good understanding of the baseline are important to reveal if the increase in temperature- and pesticide-tolerant species will lead to a decrease in specialized species and a homogenization of biotic communities in the long term.

Gebert, F., Obrist, M. K., Siber, R., Altermatt, F., Bollmann, K., & Schuwirth, N. (2022). Recent trends in stream macroinvertebrates: Warm-adapted and pesticide-tolerant taxa increase in richness. Biology Letters, 18(3), 20210513.