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 How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

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: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>