The global biomass and number of terrestrial arthropods

Yuval Rosenberg, Yinon M Bar-On, Amir Fromm, Meital Ostikar, Aviv Shoshany, Omer Giz, Ron Milo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Insects and other arthropods are central to terrestrial ecosystems. However, data are lacking regarding their global population abundance. We synthesized thousands of evaluations from around 500 sites worldwide, estimating the absolute biomass and abundance of terrestrial arthropods across different taxa and habitats. We found that there are ≈1 × 1019 (twofold uncertainty range) soil arthropods on Earth, ≈95% of which are soil mites and springtails. The soil contains ≈200 (twofold uncertainty range) million metric tons (Mt) of dry biomass. Termites contribute ≈40% of the soil biomass, much more than ants at ≈10%. Our estimate for the global biomass of above-ground arthropods is more uncertain, highlighting a knowledge gap that future research should aim to close. We estimate the combined dry biomass of all terrestrial arthropods at ≈300 Mt (uncertainty range, 100 to 500), similar to the mass of humanity and its livestock. These estimates enhance the quantitative understanding of arthropods in terrestrial ecosystems and provide an initial holistic benchmark on their decline.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabq4049
Number of pages12
JournalScience Advances
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Feb 2023


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