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Controversial Pesticides Linked to Bird Declines

Brandon Keim - Wired: “Evidence continues to mount that a highly controversial class of pesticides blamed for widespread bee declines is also harming other creatures, perhaps catastrophically.In a study of neonicotinoid pesticides and bird populations in the Netherlands, biologists found a close and troubling link. As neonicotinoid levels rose in streams, lakes and wetlands, populations of insect-eating birds declined. The pesticides appear to have eliminated the insects on which they rely. “These insecticides appear to be having more profound effects than just killing our pollinating insects,” said ecologist Caspar Hallmann of Radboud University in the Netherlands, an author on the new study, published today in Nature…Across North America, birds that live in or migrate through agricultural areas arein precipitous decline. And while an analysis like the new study would be difficult to conduct here—there are no long-term, large-scale datasets of environmental neonicotinoid levels across the U.S. and Canada—neonicotinoid pollution levels are routinely found that exceed the new study’s .0194 ppb limit…The researchers also point out that, aside from eliminating their food supply, the chemicals may also be poisoning birds—not necessarily killing them outright, but rather weakening them. That remains an area in urgent need of more research, they said, and something for government regulators to consider.”

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