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article imagePesticides pose major risk to invertebrate species

By Tim Sandle     Jun 22, 2013 in Environment
Leipzig - A new science paper indicates that agricultural pesticides, even when used at levels considered safe, can cause devastating losses of invertebrate species.
According to a new study published in the in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pesticide use is reducing the diversity of aquatic insects and other invertebrates at a rapid rate. The researchers focused on examining the loss of biodiversity in Europe and Australia. For this the scientists examined areas where pesticides were used and areas where they were not used.
The research team investigated, as summarized by Nature, 23 streams in the German countryside, 16 in the western plains of France, and 24 in southern Victoria, Australia. Biodiversity loss in the contaminated European test sites was found to be as high as 42 percent, and as high as 27 percent in Australia, compared with uncontaminated sites. The main types of species affected were dragonflies and mayflies, which many birds and fish require as a food source.
Worryingly, losses were seen in areas where pesticide concentrations were at levels that European regulatory agencies deemed environmentally protective. The research report suggests that the UN Convention on Biological Diversity aim to slow down the decline in the number of species by 2020 is unlikely to be effective.
The study was led by Mikhail Beketov, an aquatic ecologist at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig, Germany.
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