November 18, 2013

Massive moose die-offs: is Alaska next? and more wildlife disease news stories


OSU review details negative impact of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians

Common pesticides and fertilizers can damage both the development and survival of amphibians to varying degrees, according to a new analysis by Oregon State University.

The new meta-analysis marks the first attempt at a large-scale summary on the negative effects of specific chemical classes on amphibians, said Tiffany Garcia, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of wildlife science within OSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Researchers reviewed more than 150 scientific studies detailing the impacts of pesticides and fertilizers on amphibians.

Around 30 percent of amphibian species are now extinct or endangered due to a range of factors, including habitat loss, disease, and exposure to contaminants, including pesticides and fertilizers, according to Garcia.

"Billions of tons of agrochemicals are used in farming every year," said Garcia, an expert in aquatic ecology. "Any disruption to frog, toad and salamander communities has clear negative impacts on biodiversity and can also set off a domino effect throughout the ecosystem by damaging the food base for amphibian predators, including birds, snakes and fish."

Oregon State University
05 Nov 2013

Cited Journal Article
Nick J. Baker, Betsy A. Bancroft, Tiffany S. Garcia. A meta-analysis of the effects of pesticides and fertilizers on survival and growth of amphibians. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 449, 1 April 2013, Pages 150-156

Negative Effects of Road Noises On Migratory Birds

A first-of-its-kind study by Boise State University researchers shows that the negative effects of roads on wildlife are largely because of traffic noise.

Biologists have known that bird populations decline near roads. But pinpointing noise as a cause has been a problem because past studies of the effects of road noise on wildlife were conducted in the presence of the other confounding effects of roads. These include visual disturbances, collisions and chemical pollution, among others.

"We present the first study to experimentally apply traffic noise to a roadless area at a landscape scale, thus avoiding the other confounding aspects of roads present in past studies," said Christopher J. W. McClure, post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences.

"Understanding the effects of road noise can help wildlife managers in the selection, conservation and management of habitat for birds," said Jesse R. Barber, assistant professor of biological sciences and one of McClure's fellow researchers.

Science Daily
06 Nov 2013

Cited Journal Article
C. J. W. McClure, H. E. Ware, J. Carlisle, G. Kaltenecker, J. R. Barber. An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1773): 20132290 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2290

More research shows neonic pesticides compromise bee immunity

The decline of bee colonies almost certainly has numerous causes. Much of the pesticide industry is focused on pathogens like Nosema parasites and Varroa mites, shifting attention away from their own harmful pesticide products. But, science is bringing pesticides and bee deaths closer together.

It is now evident that even low field-realistic levels of neonicotinoids (‘neonics’) – a class of pesticides purposely designed to soak into the whole plant – are compromising the immunity of bees, leaving them unable to fend off viruses and other deadly pathogens that stress and eventually kill bee colonies. It is a deadly one-two punch. The bees are immune compromised from the pesticides, and then fall prey to mites and other viruses that kill them.

A new study (Di Prisco et al 2013) suggests a mechanism for how these neonics are compromising bee immunity. Researchers exposed honey bees to clothianidin – a neonicotinoid pesticide commonly used as a seed treatment and to spray on field and tree crops, turf, and ornamental trees and flowers - and then infected the bees with a virus. Compared to unexposed (control) bees, the pesticide neonic bees had reduced immune system function and impaired signaling of a molecule called “NF-kappa B” (NF-kB), normally required for proper function of the immune system. Interestingly, when chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate pesticide that shares a mechanism of toxicity with the neonicotinoids, was tested under the same conditions its effects on immune response were negligible, suggesting this toxic mechanism may be specific to the neonic pesticides.

Natural Resources Defense Council
08 Nov 2013
J Sass

Cited Journal Article
Gennaro Di Priscoa et al. Neonicotinoid clothianidin adversely affects insect immunity and promotes replication of a viral pathogen in honey bees. PNAS. 2013; Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314923110

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