[ExI] It's not only bees - insects and birds are in decline also

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Wed May 10 18:56:02 UTC 2017

Where have all the insects gone?
By Gretchen VogelMay. 10, 2017


But in 2013 they spotted something alarming. When they returned to one
of their earliest trapping sites from 1989, the total mass of their
catch had fallen by nearly 80%. Perhaps it was a particularly bad
year, they thought, so they set up the traps again in 2014. The
numbers were just as low. Through more direct comparisons, the
group—which had preserved thousands of samples over 3 decades—found
dramatic declines across more than a dozen other sites.
Such losses reverberate up the food chain. "If you're an insect-eating
bird living in that area, four-fifths of your food is gone in the last
quarter-century, which is staggering," says Dave Goulson,

Neonicotinoid pesticides, already implicated in the widespread crash
of bee populations, are another prime suspect. Introduced in the
1980s, they are now the world's most popular insecticides, initially
viewed as relatively benign because they are often applied directly to
seeds rather than sprayed. But because they are water soluble, they
don't stay put in the fields where they are used. Goulson and his
colleagues reported in 2015 that nectar and pollen from wildflowers
next to treated fields can have higher concentrations of
neonicotinoids than the crop plants. Although initial safety studies
showed that allowable levels of the compounds didn't kill honey bees
directly, they do affect the insects' abilities to navigate and
communicate, according to later research. Researchers found similar
effects in wild solitary bees and bumble bees.

Other, more visible creatures may be feeling the effects of the insect
losses. Across North America and Europe, species of birds that eat
flying insects, such as larks, swallows, and swifts, are in steep
decline. Habitat loss certainly plays a role, Nocera says, "but the
obvious factor that ties them all together is their diet."

'Dramatic' decline in European birds linked to industrial agriculture

Habitat loss and a decline in insects are among the main factors
influencing an alarming decrease in birds in Germany and Europe,
according to new figures released by the German government.


In Germany, one-third of all bird species have seen "significant
population declines" since the end of the 1990s, said the government
in response to a question about the plight of birds across Europe put
forward by the Greens.

NABU says "agricultural intensification" is the main culprit. Large
fields and monocultures - made possible by bigger and more effective
machines - as well as intensive use of pesticides, herbicides and
insecticides have reduced the availability of birds' food, such as
worms and insects, along with habitat for breeding and nesting.

Some insect species, for instance, have seen population losses of up
to 90 percent as a result of pesticides and weed killers, wrote the
German government in its response to the Greens.

It seems that since about 1990 something is going seriously wrong in
the countryside environment.


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