Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chernobyl radiation fells female birds, making chirping more frequent from lonely males

Date:
April 19, 2012
Source:
University of South Carolina
Summary:
Birdsong is one of the joys of nature, but higher percentages of birds chirping near Chernobyl are a perverse indication of radiation contamination, according to a new study.

Birdsong is one of the joys of nature, but higher percentages of birds chirping near Chernobyl are a perverse indication of radiation contamination, according to a new study.

An international team of researchers studied gender abundances and singing behavior in birds from eight areas with varying levels of radiation contamination near Chernobyl, Ukraine, the center of the catastrophe that began with an explosion in a nuclear power plant on April 26, 1986.

The results, published in PLoS One, were clear: higher levels of contamination went hand-in-hand with greater male-to-female ratios.

"We're seeing higher mortalities for females than males, reflecting the increased costs of reproduction in these stressful environments," said co-author Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of South Carolina. Male bird mortality also increased with background radiation levels, he added, but the female susceptibility to contamination was far stronger.

Counting the number of birds singing in each area, the researchers found that the percentage chirping was higher in the more contaminated areas. Given the relative dearth of females in those areas, the team concluded that lonely bachelors were spending more time calling out for mates.

That observation means that some earlier Chernobyl data might beg an even more stark interpretation. "When we did the original censuses, the standard method for doing a bird count is birds that you can either see or hear," Mousseau said. "So our early estimates of abundance were probably overestimates in the contaminated areas."

The data also showed higher percentages of yearlings, rather than more mature birds, in the areas of higher contamination. "It's what we've seen for many years now," said Mousseau, the director of the Chernobyl Research Initiative at USC, which has sponsored studies on the long-term ecological and health consequences of the Chernobyl disaster since 1998, including many collaborations with this paper's co-author Anders Mψller of the CNRS in France. "Within the Chernobyl zone, it's very heterogeneous -- where the contamination levels are high, there are far fewer birds."

The team captured and examined birds to determine their sex in regions with background radiation ranging from 0.02 to 138 micro-Sv per hour (0.02 to 0.05 micro-Sv per hour are normal background radiation levels in the northern Ukraine).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Anders Pape Mψller, Andrea Bonisoli-Alquati, Geir Rudolfsen, Timothy A. Mousseau. Elevated Mortality among Birds in Chernobyl as Judged from Skewed Age and Sex Ratios. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (4): e35223 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035223

Cite This Page:

University of South Carolina. "Chernobyl radiation fells female birds, making chirping more frequent from lonely males." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419102045.htm>.
University of South Carolina. (2012, April 19). Chernobyl radiation fells female birds, making chirping more frequent from lonely males. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419102045.htm
University of South Carolina. "Chernobyl radiation fells female birds, making chirping more frequent from lonely males." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419102045.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. Video provided by Newsy
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