Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Pesticides significantly reduce biodiversity in aquatic environments

18.06.2013
Current pesticide risk assessment falls short of protecting biodiversity

The pesticides, many of which are currently used in Europe and Australia, are responsible for reducing the regional diversity of invertebrates in streams and rivers by up to 42 percent, researchers report in the Proceedings of the US Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Mikhail A. Beketov and Matthias Liess from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig, together with Ben Kefford from the University of Technology, Sydney and Ralf B. Schäfer from the Institute for Environmental Sciences Landau, analysed the impact of pesticides, such as insecticides and fungicides, on the regional biodiversity of invertebrates in flowing waters using data from Germany, France and Victoria in Australia. The authors of the now-published study state that this is the first ever study which has investigated the effects of pesticides on regional biodiversity.

Pesticides, for example those used in agriculture, are among the most-investigated and regulated groups of pollutants. However, until now it was not known whether, or to which extent, and at what concentrations their use causes a reduction in biodiversity in aquatic environments. The researchers investigated these questions and compared the numbers of species in different regions: in the Hildesheimer Boerde near Braunschweig, in southern Victoria in Australia and in Brittany in France.

In both Europe and Australia, the researchers were able to demonstrate considerable losses in the regional biodiversity of aquatic insects and other freshwater invertebrates. A difference in biodiversity of 42 percent was found between non-contaminated and strongly-contaminated areas in Europe; in Australia, a decrease of 27 percent was demonstrated. The researchers also discovered that the overall decrease in biodiversity is primarily due to the disappearance of several groups of species that are especially susceptible to pesticides. These mainly include representatives of the stoneflies, mayflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies and are important members of the food chain right up to fish and birds. Biological diversity in such aquatic environments can only be sustained by them because they ensure a regular exchange between surface and ground water, thus functioning as an indicator of water quality.

Protection concepts fall short of requirements
One worrying result from the study is that the impact of pesticides on these tiny creatures is already catastrophic at concentrations which are considered protective by current European regulation. The authors point out that the use of pesticides is an important driver for biodiversity loss and that legally-permitted maximum concentrations do not adequately protect the biodiversity of invertebrates in flowing waters. New concepts linking ecology with ecotoxicology are therefore urgently needed. "The current practice of risk assessment is like driving blind on the motorway", cautions the ecotoxicologist Matthias Liess. To date, the approval of pesticides has primarily been based on experimental work carried out in laboratories and artificial ecosystems. To be able to assess the ecological impact of such chemical substances properly, existing concepts need to be validated by investigations in real environments as soon as possible. "The latest results show that the aim of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to slow down the decline in the number of species by 2020 is jeopardized. Pesticides will always have an impact on ecosystems, no matter how rigid protection concepts are, but realistic considerations regarding the level of protection required for the various ecosystems can only be made if validated assessment concepts are implemented." The threat to biodiversity from pesticides has obviously been underestimated in the past.

Bettina Hennebach

http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=31771

Publication
M.A. Beketov, B.J. Kefford, R.B. Schäfer, and M. Liess (2013): "Pesticides reduce regional biodiversity of stream invertebrates". PNAS, Early Edition. 17 June 2013, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305618110
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1305618110
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/recent
The study has been funded by the Helmholtz Association as part of the ECOLINK research project.
Participating institutions
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig, (Germany)
Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau
Centre for Environmental Sustainability, University of Technology Sydney (Australia)
Further information
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ)
Dr. Mikhail Beketov
Tel. 0341-235-1495
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=3718
and
PD Dr. Matthias Liess
Tel. 0341-235-1578
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=3714
or via
Tilo Arnhold (UFZ press office)
Tel.: +49-341-235-1635
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?de=640
Institute for Environmental Sciences
University Koblenz-Landau
Jun.-Prof. Dr. Ralf B. Schäfer
Tel.: 06341 280-31536
schaefer-ralf@uni-landau.de
Centre for Environmental Sustainability, School of the Environment, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Sydney, Australia
Dr. Ben Kefford
Tel.: 61 2 9514 4087
Email: ben.kefford@uts.edu.au
Links
"Digging from bothe sides" in: "Chemicals in the environment" (page 6)
http://www.ufz.de/export/data/global/44068_ufzspezial_okt_2012.pdf
Study: Pesticide authorisation procedures fail to adequately protect biodiversity in rivers (Press release 31 May 2012):
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=30499
Pesticides pollute European waterbodies more than previously thought (Press release 13 October 2011):
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=22196
ECOLINK-Projekt:
http://www.ufz.de/ecolink/index.php?en=17206
At the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) scientists are researching the causes and consequences of far-reaching changes to the environment. They are concerned with water resources, biological diversity, the consequences of climate change and adaptability, environmental and biotechnologies, bioenergy, the behaviour of chemicals in the environment, their effect on health, modelling and social science issues. Their guiding theme: Our research contributes to the sustainable use of natural resources and helps to secure this basis for life over the long term under the effects of global change. The UFZ employs 1,100 people in Leipzig, Halle and Magdeburg. It is financed by the federal government and the federal states of Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt.

http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=11382

The Helmholtz Association contributes towards solving major challenges facing society, science and the economy with top scientific achievements in six areas of research: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Structure of Matter, Transport and Space. With over 34 000 employees working in 18 research centres and an annual budget of around 3.8 billion Euros, the Helmholtz Association is the largest scientific organisation in Germany. Its work continues the tradition established by the natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

http://www.helmholtz.de

Bettina Hennebach/Tilo Arnhold | UFZ News
Further information:
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=11382

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

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: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>