Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Chernobyl's radioactivity reduced the populations of birds of orange plumage

27.04.2011
On April 26, 1986, history's greatest nuclear accident took place northwest of the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl. Despite the scale of the disaster, 25 years later, we still do not know its real effects. An international team of investigators has shown for the first time that the colour of birds' plumage may make them more vulnerable to radioactivity.

Radiation causes oxidative stress, damages biological molecules and may have "important" negative effects on organisms in relatively high doses, like those found in certain zones close to Chernobyl.


Bird populations fell as the levels of radiation in peripheral zones of Chernobyl (Ukraine) rose. Credit: Rafael Palomo Santana

"In the case of the birds studied, these effects were seen in the size of their populations", says Ismael Galván, lead author of the study and researcher in the Laboratory of Ecology, Systematics and Evolution at the University of Paris-Sur, in France, speaking to SINC.

According to the study, which has been published in the journal Oecologia, bird populations fell as the levels of radiation in peripheral zones of Chernobyl (Ukraine) rose. In total, the researchers analysed the abundance of 97 bird species exposed to different levels of radiation during four years.

In the majority of the birds (64 species), the populations diminished with the level or radioactivity. "Nevertheless, the populations of a few species (the 33 remaining species) experienced positive effects from the radiation (though the magnitude of these effects was very low in some cases), perhaps due to the reduction in competition with other species", explains Galván.

Colour: a bird's weak or strong point

The scientists concentrated on the colouring generated by melanins – pigments which protect from ultraviolet radiation and generate camouflage patterns – of the nearly one hundred species of bird studied. The reason: the type of pigmentation may interfere with the ability to resist radioactivity's negative effects.

"The impact on the populations depends, at least in part, on the amount of plumage whose colouring is generated by pheomelanin, one of the two main types of melanins, which produces orangish and brownish colours", the Spanish expert adds.

The birds of Chernobyl with the most pheomelanism (with the most plumage coloured by pheomelanin) were judged to be the "most negatively" affected by the radioactivity. As the pigment consumes glutathione (one of the antioxidants most susceptible to radiation and whose level tends to be diminished by its effects), in these birds, the capacity to combat the oxidative stress generated by radiation "probably" diminishes.

References:

Galván, Ismael; Mousseau, Timothy A.; Moller, Anders P. "Bird population declines due to radiation exposure at Chernobyl are stronger in species with pheomelanin-based coloration" Oecologia 165(4): 827-835, april of 2011.

SINC Team | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>