Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Worms Will Never Taste The Same: A New Study Examines How Insecticides Influence Birds

Date:
September 3, 1999
Source:
Ecological Society Of America
Summary:
It may take just a scent, while passing by a restaurant, to jog a memory of a meal gone bad. Many people, after eating something that makes them ill, refuse to consume that food again. Some birds apparently feel the same way about eating insects that have been exposed to insecticides.

It may take just a scent, while passing by a restaurant, to jog a memory of a meal gone bad. Many people, after eating something that makes them ill, refuse to consume that food again. Some birds apparently feel the same way about eating insects that have been exposed to insecticides.

Related Articles


A study, conducted by Lowell K. Nicolaus and Hansoo Lee of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois, and published in the August edition of Ecological Applications, found that Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) will consistently avoid mealworms (Tenebriosp.) which have been injected with sub-lethal doses of the insecticide parathion, after only a single exposure. Parathion is an organophosphate, one of the most widely used classes of insecticide in both industrialized and developing nations.

This avoidance of toxic prey, known as conditioned taste aversion (CTA), began after the blackbirds were exposed to the contaminated worms for only one day. The birds were exposed to extremely low levels of parathion, levels too low to induce obvious illness. This suggests the possibility of a widespread, undetected exposure to these insecticides and a loss of important food sources for birds and their nestlings.

All the work in this study was done among free-ranging birds, which allowed the researchers to avoid many of the artificialities of captive studies. This was possible because birds in the study were in separate breeding territories.

The benefits of avoiding toxic foods include reducing the risk of subsequent poisoning of adults, and also of adults feeding toxic prey to their young. These results suggest the possibility, however, of CTA playing a role in reported declines of insect-eating birds populations. CTA could limit both feeding efficiency and breeding success in birds that must exploit many resources to flourish.

CTA could also have widespread agricultural implications. A decline in bird predation on insects might have economic consequences if crops were damaged by rising insect populations. The largest effects of this prey avoidance might be felt in developing nations, where insecticide application is heavy, and its use is much less regulated, than in industrialized nations. The majority of bird diversity is also found in these areas.

"The long-term effects of CTA on bird populations could have widespread implications," says Nicolaus. "This study produced the first clear evidence that a single exposure to an organophosphate insecticide can produce a lasting change in behavior among free-ranging birds. Even if the toxin is no longer present, we have observed that these birds will continue to avoid insects they experienced as toxic."

###Ecological Applications is a journal published four times a year by the Ecological Society of America (ESA). Copies of the above articles are available free of charge to the press through the Society's Public Affairs Office. Members of the press may also obtain copies of ESA's entire family of publications, which includes Ecology, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, and Conservation Ecology. Others interested in copies of articles should contact the Reprint Department at the address in the masthead.

Founded in 1915, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a scientific, non-profit, organization with over 7000 members. Through ESA reports, journals, membership research, and expert testimony to Congress, ESA seeks to promote the responsible application of ecological data and principles to the solution of environmental problems. For more information about the Society and its activities, access ESA's web site at: http://esa.sdsc.edu.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecological Society Of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ecological Society Of America. "Worms Will Never Taste The Same: A New Study Examines How Insecticides Influence Birds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990903070239.htm>.
Ecological Society Of America. (1999, September 3). Worms Will Never Taste The Same: A New Study Examines How Insecticides Influence Birds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990903070239.htm
Ecological Society Of America. "Worms Will Never Taste The Same: A New Study Examines How Insecticides Influence Birds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990903070239.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins