Use of glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) increased ∼100-fold from 1974 to 2014. Additional increases are expected due to widespread emergence of glyphosateresistant weeds, increased application of GBHs, and preharvest uses of GBHs as desiccants. Current safety assessments rely heavily on studies conducted over 30 years ago. We have considered information on GBH use, exposures, mechanisms of action, toxicity and epidemiology. Human exposures to glyphosate are rising, and a number of in vitro and in vivo studies challenge the basis for the current safety assessment of glyphosate and GBHs.
Few studies have quantified the relative reproductive success of passerines in urban habitats. I studied food availability and reproductive success of barn swallows Hirundo rustica in two urban habitats during 2012–2015. Barn swallows breeding in the town center experienced lower insect densities than those in the town periphery.
Agriculture Canada scientist Jeff Skevington, who works with the Canadian National Collection of Insects, says the country has lost a significant amount of its insect biodiversity in recent years based on the results of annual collection samples. That means a lot of the insects at the bottom of our food chain are dying out, which could have an unexpected, but noticeable impact on the lives of humans.
The research, published in the journal Insect Conservation and Diversity, involved taking recordings at four sites across East Anglia, nine times a year over an 11-year period from 2006-2016. Led by Dr Peter Brown of Anglia Ruskin University, who worked alongside Dr Helen Roy of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the research found that the proportion of native ladybirds recorded at the sites (two lime tree sites, one pine tree site and one nettle site) declined from 99.8% in 2006 to 30.7% in 2016.
In his book, Dutch toxicologist Henk Tennekes (2010) makes the case that the contamination of surface water by neonicotinoids is so widespread in the Netherlands (and possibly elsewhere in Europe), that loss of insect biomass on a continental scale is behind many of the widespread declines that are being seen, be they of marsh birds, heath or meadow birds or even coastal species. This suggests that we should be looking at possible links between neonicotinoid insecticides and birds, not on a farm scale, but in the context of whole watersheds and regions.
In the course of the 20th century, the breeding population of the Montagu's Harrier (Circus pygargus) decreased dramatically in The Netherlands. In the first half of the century, it was a fairly common and widespread breeding bird in dunes, heathland, moors and marshland. The species has disappeared from large sections of the country from the 1950s onwards, with the exception of a temporal increase in newly reclaimed polders (Southern and Eastern Flevoland). In 1950-90, the population decreased from about 250 pairs to less than 10 pairs.
Neonicotinoids are prophylactically used globally on a variety of crops, and there is concern for the potential impacts of neonicotinoids on aquatic ecosystems. The intensive use of pesticides on crops has been identified as a contributor to population declines of amphibians, but currently little is known regarding the sublethal effects of chronic neonicotinoid exposure on amphibians.
The population of Africa’s largest eagle species is in freefall in South Africa and may be edging towards extinction, according to a new UCT study. Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus) sightings have dropped by as much as 60% since the late 1980s, the study published this week in the scientific journal Bird Conservation International found. The study also highlighted a decline in Martial eagle sightings within protected areas, including the Kruger National Park and the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park.