Bees tend to get the most attention as pollinators critical to the survival of plant species. But lizards, mice, bats, and other vertebrates also act as important pollinators. A new study finds that fruit and seed production drops an average 63 percent when vertebrates, but not insects, are kept away from plants.
Pesticides are a convenient way to get rid of the pests in our homes and gardens and on the farms that grow the food we eat. Yet, the increased use of pesticides has been linked to a number of serious health risks. Some pesticides are irritating to the skin and eyes. Others, including organophosphates, have been linked to nervous system damage and to the development of Parkinson's disease. Pesticide exposure has also been associated with a greater risk for some cancers, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Experimental studies have revealed that neonicotinoids pose potential risks for the nervous systems of non-target species, but the brain regions responsible for their behavioral effects remain incompletely understood. This study aimed to assess the neurobehavioral effects of clothianidin (CTD), a later neonicotinoid developed in 2001 and widely used worldwide, and to explore the target regions of neonicotinoids in the mammalian brain.
Not so long ago, on a drive down a rural road in Minnesota you’d often see an American kestrel (Falco sparverius) perched on a power line, watching for a dragonfly or small rodent to pass beneath. If you were really lucky, you’d spot this smallest member of the falcon family flapping its wings in its unusual hovering flight as it watched for prey. Such sights are becoming increasingly rare. These handsome little raptors, about the size of a mourning dove, are suffering a long-term and widespread population decline.
Die Fledermäuse erwachen momentan aus dem Winterschlaf. Nachts gehen sie auf die Jagd, um ihre leeren Reserven aufzutanken. Doch sie finden kaum noch Futter. „Seit einiger Zeit beobachten wir einen alarmierenden Rückgang von Insekten“, sagt Karl Kugelschafter, Fledermausexperte vom Naturschutzbund (Nabu). Für die Fledermäuse geht es ums Überleben, denn sie ernähren sich fast ausschließlich von Insekten und müssen pro Tag ungefähr ein Drittel ihres Körpergewichtes an Nahrung zu sich nehmen. Hochgerechnet braucht ein einzelnes Tier also ungefähr ein Kilogramm Insekten in einem Sommer.
A study by scientists at Madurai Kamaraj University, Tamil Nadu, has found evidence that chronic exposure to organophosphate insecticides induces diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance in both humans and mice. The researchers found that organophosphate-induced diabetes was mediated by gut bacteria. The results were published in the journal Genome Biology.
Imidacloprid (IMD), a neonicotinoid insecticide, is the most widely used insecticide on the planet. The purpose of this study was to examine the behavioural and biochemical effects of chronic in utero and early postnatal IMD exposure. Our treatment regimen entailed chronic exposure whereby pregnant mice were infused with 0.5 mg/kg/day of IMD via a subcutaneous osmotic mini-pump from gestational day 3 to postnatal day 21.
Schwarze Knopfaugen und dicke Bäckchen: Der Feldhamster sieht niedlich aus. Doch zu Gesicht bekommt den Nager im Norden kaum noch jemand, denn der Feldhamster (Cricetus cricetus) ist so gut wie ausgestorben. In Schleswig-Holstein und Mecklenburg-Vorpommern lebt nach Angaben der Deutschen Wildtier Stiftung kein einziger Feldhamster mehr. Und auch für Niedersachsen sieht es schlecht aus: Dort gibt es noch wenige Tiere rund um die die Hildesheimer Börde und Peine, aber auch hier schrumpft der Bestand. "Es ist fünf vor zwölf", sagt Biologe Peer Cyriacks von der Deutschen Wildtier Stiftung.
Neonicotinoids, a widely used group of pesticides designed to selectively bind to insect nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, were considered relatively safe for mammalian species. However, they have been found to activate vertebrate nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and could be toxic to the mammalian brain.
One year ago, an agency of the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC) declared that glyphosate (or Roundup), the world’s most widely used herbicide, probably causes cancer. Then, in the fall, the European Food Safety Agency’s (EFSA) responded with an assessment that disagreed with the WHO’s findings. In response, 94 scientists came out in support of the IARC’s original findings. This week, the group—which includes scientists from around the world—released their article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health saying: The most appropriate and scientifically based evaluation of the cancers reported in humans and laboratory animals as well as supportive mechanistic data is that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. On the basis of this conclusion and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, it is reasonable to conclude that glyphosate formulations should also be considered likely human carcinogens. And their endorsement is no small matter. In fact, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reassesses the safety of glyphosate, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) plans to begin testing food for its residue, this volley has important implications.