Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies

Date:
March 7, 2012
Source:
Washington State University
Summary:
A toxicologist has found that three commonly used herbicides can dramatically reduce butterfly populations. The research was aimed at possible effects on the Lange's metalmark, an endangered species in northern California, but it has implications for other at-risk and endangered butterflies wherever herbicides are used.

Crop duster. Three commonly used herbicides can dramatically reduce butterfly populations.
Credit: ASP Inc / Fotolia

A Washington State University toxicologist has found that three commonly used herbicides can dramatically reduce butterfly populations.

The research was aimed at possible effects on the Lange's metalmark, an endangered species in northern California. But it has implications for other at-risk and endangered butterflies wherever herbicides are used, says John Stark, an ecotoxicologist and director of the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center.

Stark and his colleagues tested triclopyr, sethoxydim and imazapyr on butterfly larvae at the request of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which uses the herbicides to maintain habitat for the Lange's metalmark in its last habitat, the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge in northern California. The researchers used the Behr's metalmark as a proxy for the Lange's metalmark, whose endangered status precludes using it for tests.

The researchers found adult numbers of the Behr's metalmark butterfly dropped by one-fourth to more than one-third when its larvae were exposed to regularly applied rates of the herbicides.

In a small population of endangered animals, says Stark, "any kind of reduction like that is going to be a problem."

While the dunes may have harbored 25,000 Lange's metalmarks 50-100 years ago, damage to the dunes reduced the population to 5,000 by 1972 and as low as 45 in 2006.

Key to the butterfly's survival is the naked stem buckwheat plant, which is easily overgrown by the non-native plants ripgut brome, vetch and yellow starthistle.

Refuge managers have tried to weed by hand but the process risks disturbing the buckwheat plants and butterfly eggs and larvae. And when refuge managers started spraying the plants with herbicides, they noticed the butterfly populations were dropping even more, says Stark.

The study, funded by FWS and published in the journal Environmental Pollution, is one of the first to document the effects of herbicides on butterflies. Several studies have shown herbicides can adversely affect animal life, even though they are designed to kill plants.

Each of the three herbicides in the Stark study operates differently, leading the researchers to think butterflies are being affected by inert ingredients or an effect on the butterflies' food source.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John D. Stark, Xue Dong Chen, Catherine S. Johnson. Effects of herbicides on Behr's metalmark butterfly, a surrogate species for the endangered butterfly, Lange's metalmark. Environmental Pollution, 2012; 164: 24 DOI: 10.1016/j.envpol.2012.01.011

Cite This Page:

Washington State University. "Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307162801.htm>.
Washington State University. (2012, March 7). Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307162801.htm
Washington State University. "Commonly used herbicides seen as threat to endangered butterflies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120307162801.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Dairy farmers and ethnic groups in Vermont are both benefiting from a unique collaborative effort that's feeding a growing need for fresh and affordable goat meat. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. 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:
from the past week

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