The toxicologist Henk Tennekes on the derailment of toxicology

In an interview with English subtitles, the toxicologist Henk Tennekes explains his ideas about the derailment of toxicology. He is of the opinion that the cumulative toxicity of pesticides in the environment is not sufficiently investigated during the authorization procedure and explains the massive insect mortality in recent years.


25% of EU agriculture land to be organically farmed by 2030

One-quarter of agricultural land in the EU will be under organic farming by the year 2030, according to the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy, which was released today, Wednesday, May 20. The aim of this, according to the strategy, is to maintain productivity; increase soil fertility and biodiversity; and reduce the footprint of food production. “Organic farming in particular holds great potential for farmers and consumers alike. The sector creates jobs and attracts young farmers,” the strategy notes.

Shifts in food plant abundance for flower‐visiting insects between 1900 and 2017 in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland

We compared the current (2012–2017) abundances of food plants of different groups of flower‐visiting insects to that of 1900–1930 in the canton of Zurich, Switzerland. Comparisons were done separately for different vegetation types, flowering months, and groups of diurnal flower‐visiting insects, such as bees, bumblebees, wasps, butterflies, hoverflies, flies, and beetles. We found a general decrease in food plant abundance for all groups of flower‐visiting insects and in all vegetation types except ruderal areas.

Greenfinches at risk of disappearing from Britain

Greenfinches are at risk of disappearing from Britain 14 years after a deadly disease first hit the UK. The greenfinch (Chloris chloris) has declined by 64 per cent in the last 23 years and shows no ‘no sign of slowing down’, according to the 2019 Breeding Bird Survey. Experts say the main cause of the decline is a parasite that causes a disease called the Trichomonas gallinae.

Decline in magpies and kookaburras rings alarm bells in Australia

BirdLife Australia data shows that Australian magpies declined by 31 per cent in the East Coast region — including Sydney and Brisbane — between 1998 and 2013. "They declined by roughly 20 per cent in the South East Mainland Region, which includes Melbourne, Canberra and Adelaide [for the same period]," Sean Dooley, BirdLife Australia's national public affairs manager, said. The data also reflected a dramatic decline in kookaburras (Dacelo novaeguineae) and birds of prey, suggesting carnivores were potentially more vulnerable to these unknown environmental changes.

Swift return to Argyll

Swifts are slightly larger than swallows and have an all dark plumage with only a short forked tail. They feed on flying insects and spend most of their life in the air (including when they sleep), usually coming down to earth to breed. They are fast fliers often chasing one another over buildings when they give a screeching call.

Swifts arrive back in Argyll in early May and breed in some of the towns, villages and other buildings in Argyll. They spend around three months in Argyll, departing in early-mid August, to their wintering grounds in Africa.

Covid-19 outbreak was a “clear warning shot”, according to UN environment chief

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen. Andersen said humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences, and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves. Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a “clear warning shot”, given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was “playing with fire”.

The wood thrush has been disappearing from the D.C. region

There’s something truly mysterious about the wood thrush. It’s small, tinier than its robin cousin. Its cinnamon brown color provides camouflage in the branches and shrubs that the bird calls home. And the wood thrush’s call, made to defend territory and attract mates, sounds as if it emanates from a big, complex instrument rather than this delicate creature. Although the bird’s range is large, reaching from Canada to Minnesota to Mexico, it is particularly beloved in the D.C. region.

Plant diversity in European forests is declining

In Europe's temperate forests, less common plant species are being replaced by more widespread species. An international team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) has found that this development could be related to an increased nitrogen deposition. Their results have been published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Insect diversity and insect abundances are higher in organic farmland

The number of insect species and insect abundances decreased severely during the past decades over major parts of Central Europe. Previous studies documented declines of species richness, abundances, shifts in species composition, and decreasing biomass of flying insects. In this study, we present a standardized approach to quantitatively and qualitatively assess insect diversity, biomass, and the abundance of taxa, in parallel.