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
http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=11382The 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).
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The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
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