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The shocking decline in birds worldwide is a disaster of humanity’s making

Between our paved backyards and potted plants, our drained wetlands and vast areas of monoculture – there is silence. Nearly six decades since Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring exposed the devastating effects of DDT on humans and wildlife, bird populations around the world are plummeting. Birds of all kinds are vanishing as a result of human impact on the environment:

Biodiversity in crisis: How close to the brink is life on Earth?

“SEE those little beetles with a black cross on a red background?” I lean in to take a look. “They’re Panagaeus cruxmajor – the crucifix ground beetle. They were collected by Charles Darwin back in the 1820s.” Ed Turner is curator of insects at the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Museum, where many of Darwin’s beetle collections are held. He is proud to show me specimens collected by the man himself, and I am chuffed to see them. But the thrill doesn’t last.

Bird population decline accelerated after Czech EU entry

The bird population has been declining in Czech farmland, with the decline accelerating since the country's EU entry in 2004, experts from Charles University's Faculty of Sciences write in a study published by the Conservation Letters international journal. The joint European policy and system of agricultural subsidies are unfavourable to birds and wildlife, the study says, cited by the Czech Society for Ornithology (CSO).

Study shows EU pesticide ban failing to protect suburban bees

Bees living in suburban habitats are still being exposed to significant levels of pesticides despite the EU ban on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on flowering crops, new research from University of Sussex scientists shows. The study, with colleagues at Stirling University and Rothamsted Research, found that neonicotinoid exposure for rural bumblebees declined after the ban's implementation in 2015 but the risk to bumblebees in suburban gardens remained largely the same.

Long term use of some pesticides is killing off dung beetle populations

New research led by scientists at the University of Bristol has uncovered that long-term use of some pesticides to treat cattle for parasites is having a significantly detrimental effect on the dung beetle population. Researchers studied 24 cattle farms across south west England and found that farms that used certain pesticides had fewer species of dung beetle. Dr Bryony Sands, from the University's School of Biological Sciences, who led the research, said: "Dung beetles recycle dung pats on pastures, bringing the nutrients back into the soil and ensuring the pastures are fertile.

Exposure of hummingbirds and bumble bees to pesticides

New research reveals that hummingbirds and bumble bees are being exposed to neonicotinoid and other pesticides through routes that are widespread and complex. The findings are published in Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry. To measure exposure to pesticides in these avian pollinators, investigators made novel use of cloacal fluid and fecal pellets from hummingbirds living near blueberry fields in British Columbia. They also collected bumble bees native to Canada, and their pollen, and blueberry leaves and flowers from within conventionally sprayed and organic blueberry farms.

Study finds 29 pesticides in Devon river

Researchers have found 29 different pesticides in a single river in Devon. Tests on four rivers in the county revealed 34 pesticides in total, as well as nine antimicrobials and veterinary drugs. Scientists said they were surprised and concerned by the results, and warned there would be harmful effects for plants and wildlife. The tests were carried out using a high-quality new technique created by scientists in Greenpeace Research Laboratories at the University of Exeter.

Bee losses in Virginia over the winter nearly 60 percent

Winter losses of honeybee colonies over the 2017-2018 season were greater than expected and greater than the average of 30 percent per year for the past decade. “The winter losses were 59.5 percent,” said Keith Tignor, Virginia State Apiarist. He adds that this is the highest rate since 2000 when the state began monitoring winter losses. There was a decrease in colony losses reported for the summer of 2017 when compared to the 2016 summer season. VDACS staff found high levels of Varroa mites and nosema infections in wintering bees.

The British population of swifts was halved in just 20 years

It is the most miraculous bird, the ultimate winged messenger, exploring our globe, spending its life on the breeze. Sickle-shaped wings silhouetted against the sky, the swift (Apus apus) is the fastest of all birds in level flight and remains entirely airborne for 10 months, or more, feeding, sleeping and mating on the wing. These long-lived creatures can clock up 4 million miles, commuting between English summers and African winters.But this bird is in freefall.