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 Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>