In July 2011, the researchers identified and counted birds at 300 locations in Fukushima Prefecture, ranging from 15 to 30 miles from the damaged nuclear complex. Largely still open to human occupation, these areas had external radiation levels from 0.5 to 35 microsieverts per hour.
Overall, the bird community as a whole was significantly diminished in the more contaminated areas.
Moreover, the team compared the results to a similar study they undertook in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone from 2006 through 2009. For 14 species of birds found in both locations, the diminution of population size from increased radiation dose was more pronounced at Fukushima than Chernobyl.
According to co-author Timothy Mousseau, a biologist in the University of South Carolina's College of Arts and Sciences, this suggests that "these birds, which have never experienced radiation of this intensity before, may be especially sensitive to radioactive contaminants."
However, when comparing all birds, including the species that are not common to both areas, the overall strength of the negative relationship was stronger in Chernobyl than in Fukushima. The authors believe that this may reflect the fact that many species in the most contaminated regions of Chernobyl have now almost completely disappeared.
The study, among the first published scientific reports concerning impacts on terrestrial animal populations in Fukushima, suggests that there are many similarities between the Chernobyl and Fukushima events and provides new insight into the first-generation effects of radiation exposure on animals in the wild. "Our results point to the need for more research to determine the underlying reasons for differences among species in sensitivity, both initially and following many generations of exposure," said Mousseau.
Although these early data are critical for setting a baseline, Mousseau added that it's imperative that "large-scale studies be initiated in Fukushima immediately to make the research potentially much more revealing."
The research was co-sponsored by QIAGEN GmbH, The Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust, the CNRS (France), and the University of South Carolina.
Steven Powell | Newswise Science News
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
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