Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Habitat loss, not poison, better explains grassland bird decline

24.06.2014

Contrary to recent well-publicized research, habitat loss, not insecticide use, continues to be the best explanation for the declines in grassland bird populations in the U.S. since the 1980s, according to a new study by ecologists.

Last year, a pair of researchers linked the drop in the populations of grassland bird species, such as the upland sandpiper and the Henslow's sparrow, to insecticide use, rather than to a rapid decline of grasslands, a more commonly accepted theory. However, after re-examining the data, Penn State and U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers now believe that the loss of habitat continues to be the best explanation, said Jason M. Hill, a postdoctoral research associate in ecosystem science and management, Penn State.

"Many people think of grassland loss as something that happened long ago in North America, but the amount of grassland lost since the 1980s is absolutely staggering, whereas the insecticide use greatly declined prior to the 1990s," said Hill.

The researchers cited earlier studies that documented a loss of approximately 97,000 square kilometers -- an area larger than the stats of Indiana -- of grasslands in the U.S. between 1982 and 1997 primarily due to the expansion and intensification of agricultural practices.

The researchers were surprised that the other researchers excluded lands from the Conservation Reserve Program lands in their analysis. The CRP pays farmers to remove environmentally sensitive lands, especially grasslands, from agricultural production. Because grassland bird species tend to do better in states with larger areas set aside in the conservation land program, excluding the conservation land program data may have skewed their results, said Hill.

"We reanalyzed their data in a more statistically-appropriate way, including CRP acreage, and found 1.3 to 21 times more support that habitat loss was more strongly connected to grassland bird declines than insecticide use," said Hill. "Grassland bird trends were positively associated with the acreages of CRP lands and some types of pastures."

Erroneously emphasizing insecticides as the principle cause of grassland bird declines may inadvertently divert attention and funding away from land conservation programs such as CRP, according to the researchers.

"Conservation Reserve Program contracts are not being renewed," said J. Franklin Egan, research ecologist, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, who worked with Hill. "My biggest concern is that we get distracted and lose focus on preserving the remaining grasslands."

Grasslands, especially in agricultural landscapes, also provide tremendous benefits to humans through erosion reduction and water filtration as well as offering habitat to numerous grassland-obligate species from black-footed ferrets to Dakota skippers.

The loss of grasslands is a global problem, according to the researchers, who report their findings in the journal PLOS One.

"Grasslands and grassland-obligate species are declining not just across North America, but across the globe," said Hill.

Grassland bird species use the living and dead vegetation in grasslands to build nests and for use as cover.

"Grasslands are easily converted to farmland for row crops, such as corn and soybeans," said Egan, "Grassland species, with few exceptions, cannot survive on these intensive agricultural lands."

The researchers examined population data of grassland species in the 48 contiguous United States from the U.S. Geological Survey North American Breeding Bird Survey. In addition to information provided by the researchers on the study of insecticides and grassland birds, they also used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Resources Conservation Services. Hill and Egan also worked with Glenn E. Stauffer, a post-doctoral scholar in forest resources, and Duane R. Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology, both of Penn State.

Matt Swayne | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

Further reports about: CRP Conservation explains grassland habitat humans insecticide insecticides poison species

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht How to detect water contamination in situ?
22.09.2016 | Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)

nachricht Quantifying the chemical effects of air pollutants on oxidative stress and human health
12.09.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

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: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

How to merge two black holes in a simple way

26.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Australian technology installed on world’s largest single-dish radio telescope

26.09.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

New mechanisms uncovered explaining frost tolerance in plants

26.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>