A butterfly rests on rapeseed, a relative of canola, in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Michael Probst / Associated Press

A 27-year study published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One found there's been a massive drop in insects in protected areas in Germany. The research shows even areas designed to preserve biodiversity are impacted by human actions.

Why it matters: Previous studies have estimated a roughly 50% drop in insects globally, writes Ben Guarino at the Washington Post. But this is one of the first studies to measure a decrease directly. Insects are important pollinators, but they're more than that. They eat waste, decompose detritus, spread nutrients and act as food for many species. "The whole fabric of our planet is built on plants and insects and the relationship between the two," Scott Black, executive director of the nonprofit Xerces Institute, tells the Post.

What they did: Researchers placed insect-catching traps in nature preserves in Germany. They made sure to move the traps around so they wouldn't harm insect populations.

What they found: The total weight of insects scientists caught each year dropped dramatically from 1989 to 2016. "The amount of decline, about 75%, is way too much to be attributed to just one or a few species such as bees or butterflies," study author Hans de Kroon tells Anna Azvolinsky at The Scientist.

Why it's happening: The study authors believe that climate change is not a factor. Instead, they implicate pesticide use and changes in how the land is used.

Go deeper

Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 19,401,935 — Total deaths: 721,906 — Total recoveries — 11,767,805Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 4,942,747 — Total deaths: 161,367 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Education: Cuomo says all New York schools can reopen for in-person learning.
  5. Public health: Surgeon general urges flu shots to prevent "double whammy" with coronavirus — Massachusetts pauses reopening after uptick in coronavirus cases.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.

The silver linings of online school

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Online learning can be frustrating for students, teachers and parents, but some methods are working.

The big picture: Just as companies are using this era of telework to try new things, some principals, teachers and education startups are treating remote learning as a period of experimentation, too.

Warren and Clinton to speak on same night of Democratic convention

(Photos: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton both are slated to speak on the Wednesday of the Democratic convention — Aug. 19 — four sources familiar with the planning told Axios.

Why it matters: That's the same night Joe Biden's running mate (to be revealed next week) will address the nation. Clinton and Warren represent two of the most influential wise-women of Democratic politics with the potential to turn out millions of establishment and progressive voters in November.