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Planting of neonicotinoid-treated maize poses risks for nontarget organisms over a wide area without consistent crop yield benefit

Neonicotinoid insecticides are used as seed treatments on most grain and oilseed crops in the U.S., yet the extent and likelihood of spread of insecticide residues during planting has not previously been quantified. Honeybees are the best model for estimating exposures in mobile insects. We measured neonicotinoid dust drift during maize sowing and used sites of maize fields, apiary locations, and honeybee foraging radii to estimate likelihood of forager exposure. We performed a concurrent multiyear field assessment of the pest-management benefits of neonicotinoid-treated maize.

The population of lesser spotted woodpeckers has almost halved since 2009

The population of lesser spotted woodpeckers (Dryobates minor synon. Dendrocopos minor) has almost halved since 2009 because dead trees are being quickly removed from parks and woods, the British Trust for Ornithology said. The sparrow-sized birds have been declining since about 1980 and only about 2000 remain. The birds tend to nest in decaying wood because it is softer and therefore easier for them to peck when carving a nesting hole.

Health and environment: Add a tax to the EU agricultural policy

As the debate heats up over the European Union's new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for 2020, I propose introducing a progressive tax that is based on farmers' purchase per unit area of pesticides, antibiotics and imported animal feed such as soya beans (see also F. Orsi Nature 541, 464; 2017). Farmers practising sustainable management would be rewarded with increased sales, higher incomes and greater societal respect.

Why Insect Decline Matters

Scientists have described 1 million species of insects so far, and estimate that at least 4 million species worldwide are still unrecorded. For people living in areas with ample wilderness and a plethora of biting mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases, a decline in insect populations might seem like an outlandish concern. But in areas with intensive industrialized agriculture, the drop in insect populations is worrying.

British wildlife is in serious trouble

Populations of farmland, woodland and marine birds have all fallen dramatically over the past 50 years, according to new government figures. In all bird species, populations have declined by six per cent since 1970, but some species saw stunning declines over the past five decades, as pesticides, the intensification of farming and the removal of hedgerows wreaked havoc. Bird populations are seen as a key indicator of the health of the natural world as they tend to feed on small insects that are the basis of the food chain.

No Sign of Swifts in May's Britain

Normally my first sighting of swifts – the dark, scythe-winged birds that scream over our summer rooftops – is on voting day in May. I can’t blame them this year. If I’d spent the past few months swooping over the Congo and Mozambique, I’d have shunned the cold grey mizzle that greeted voters yesterday. Swifts (Apus apus) are among the last summer visitors to arrive and the first to leave, flying south as soon as they have raised their young. They were made for flying and only touch down to nest.

Study finds link between neonic pesticides and decline of bumblebee queens

A widely used pesticide harms bumblebee queens’ abilities to feed and reproduce, reducing the survival prospects for the pollinators that play a key role in food production, a new study co-authored by a University of Guelph professor shows. The research is the first on how queen bumblebees react to neonicotinoids, a class of insecticide used in agriculture, horticulture and flea treatment for pets. Declines in insect pollinators, including bees and butterflies, have been linked to neonicotinoids, in addition to loss of habitat, disease and climate change.

Bird populations in steep decline in North America

North America has more than a billion fewer birds than it did 40 years ago, with the snowy owl (Bubo scandiacus) and the chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica) just two of the better-known species in dramatic decline across the continent, a recent survey has found. The total number of continental landbirds stands at about 10 billion, down from about 11.5 billion in 1970.

Pesticides affect pheasant abundance in California

Based on count data compiled from Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) from 1974 to 2012, Christmas Bird Count (CBC) collected from 1914 to 2013, and hunter data from Annual Game Take Survey (AGTS) for years 1948–2010, ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) in California have experienced substantial declines in agricultural environments. An additional analysis using a restricted data set (1990–2013) indicated recent negative impacts on pheasant numbers associated with land use practices were also associated with relatively high levels of pesticide application.

Bird decline in Bulgaria after the country joined the EU in 2007

Based on monitoring data for the period 2005-2010, we studied the trends in abundance and species richness of common breeding birds in Bulgaria before and after the country joined the EU in 2007. We analysed the trends in birds of farmland, woodland and “other” habitats, and additionally, we tested whether indices of the commonest birds are representative of wider changes in bird populations. At species level (n = 32), significant declines were detected in 11 species (34%), and increases in just two (6%); 19 species (60%) had uncertain trends.