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Insect researcher: Non-destructive methods are needed

New research has shed light on the importance of revolutionising methods in entomology. A publication titled "The need for a (non-destructive) method revolution in entomology" has highlighted how to improve our understanding of insects without harming them.

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Traditionally, insect research has involved destructive methods, killing the insects so they could be studied more closely. Now a team, led by Senior Researcher Emeritus Gábor L. Lövei from the Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University is calling for a change in approach to insect studies. He argues that research will still be able to gain in-depth insights into the world of insects by using methods that don't harm them.  

"Technological advances in image processing, molecular biology and data analysis can allow us to study insects in a gentler way. Using advanced cameras and microscopes, we can now observe and analyse insects in their natural environment without harming them," he explains.   

Modern techniques are less harmful  

In their perspective paper, "The need for a (non-destructive) method revolution in entomology" the international team suggests a re-evaluation of the entomological toolkit to give more emphasis to nonlethal methods. These approaches allow researchers to study insect behaviour, life cycles, interactions and ecosystem contributions in a precise and comprehensive way. By combining non-destructive methods with modern computational techniques, huge amounts of data can be analysed, and patterns can be discovered that would otherwise be impossible to observe.  

The publication also emphasises that a shift to non-destructive methods in insect research could have major benefits. It will allow us to preserve insect samples for later studies and at the same time preserve biodiversity.   

"In addition, it is also more ethical to study insects without harming or killing them. We also need a more respectful approach to nature, and entomologists ought to show an example," says Gábor L. Lövei   

More gentle approach  

The researchers hope that their publication will spark a movement towards a gentler approach to insect research. They call for further research and development of technologies that can support a non-destructive methodological change in entomology.  

"This approach to insect science has the potential to further our understanding of arthropods and their role in the ecosystem while causing less damage to them, and this way foster more respect towards nature. By changing our approach to the study of insects, we can contribute to a more sustainable future for our planet and its many living organisms," says Gábor L. Lövei, who has spent his entire professional career studying insects.   

External collaborators Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University, University of Debrecen and University of Göttingen.
External funding Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, Italy
Conflict of interest None
Link to the scientific article The publication "The need for a (non-destructive) method revolution in entomology" has been published in the journal Biological Conservation. It is written by Gábor L. Lövei, Marco Ferrante, Daniella Möller, Gabriella Möller and Éva Vincze. 
Contact information Senior Researcher Emeritus Gábor L. Lövei, Department of Agroecology at Aarhus University. Email: gabor.lovei@agro.au.dk or Tel.: +4530516461