15 Nov 2010:
New Class of Insecticides
Linked to Bird Declines, Researcher Asserts
In a new book, a Dutch researcher says that the introduction of a new class of insecticides two decades ago has led to a steady decline in bird species
that rely on insect species as their main source of food. The scientist — Henk Tennekes at the Experimental Toxicology Services in Zutphen, the Netherlands — says
that the widespread use of a potent new group of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, has led to a drastic decline in insect populations, which, in turn, is causing declines in bird populations in Europe. In his book, The Systemic Insecticides: A Disaster in the Making
, Tennekes says that neonicotinoids are placed inside seeds and permeate the entire plant, leading to the death of any insect that feeds on a crop treated with the insecticide. “The evidence shows that the bird species suffering massive declines since the 1990s rely on insects for their diet,” said Tennekes. Such species include house sparrows, common swifts, and starlings, whose populations have shown significant declines in recent decades. Some scientists believe that the use of neonicotinoids is one reason behind the recent collapse
of bee populations in Europe and the United States. Other scientists said far more study is needed before researchers can conclusively prove that neonicotinoids are a key cause of insect and bird declines.
Yale Environment 360 is
a publication of the
Yale School of Forestry
& Environmental Studies
Yale Environment 360
articles are now available in Spanish and Portuguese on Universia
, the online educational network. Visit the site.
Business & Innovation
Policy & Politics
Pollution & Health
Science & Technology
Antarctica and the Arctic
Central & South America
Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land. Watch the video.
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile
An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S. View the photos.
Ugandan scientists monitor the impact of climate change on one of Africa’s most diverse forests and its extraordinary wildlife. Learn more.
video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs. Watch the video.
video goes onto the front lines with Colorado firefighters confronting deadly blazes fueled by a hotter, drier climate. Watch the video.
A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.