Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Do herbicides alter ecosystems around the world? Scant research makes it hard to prove

Date:
August 16, 2013
Source:
Universitaet Tübingen
Summary:
The number of humans on the planet has almost doubled in the past 50 years -- and so has global food production. As a result, the use of pesticides and their effect on humans, animals and plants have become more important. Many laboratory studies have shown that pesticides can harm organisms which they were not meant to affect. Intensive farming is also linked to collapsing populations of wild animals and the endangerment of species such as amphibians. Can the biochemical effects of pesticides upset entire ecosystems?

Using pesticides in Vaucluse, France.
Credit: Rita Triebskorn/University of Tübingen

The number of humans on the planet has almost doubled in the past 50 years ‒ and so has global food production. As a result, the use of pesticides and their effect on humans, animals and plants have become more important. Many laboratory studies have shown that pesticides can harm organisms which they were not meant to affect. Intensive farming is also linked to collapsing populations of wild animals and the endangerment of species such as amphibians. Can the biochemical effects of pesticides upset entire ecosystems?

Professor Heinz Köhler and Professor Rita Triebskorn from the University of Tübingen's Institute of Evolution and Ecology (EvE) have published a study on the link between pesticides and changing ecological systems in the latest edition of Science. The two ecotoxicologists cite deficits in the research which have prevented recognition of the consequences of biochemical pesticide effects on a species population or on the composition of biological communities. "Although there are many indications of animal populations and ecosystems changing because of pesticides, there are few studies proving the connection without a doubt," Köhler and Triebskorn say. The researchers point to mathematical and experimental approaches which can be used to recognize links between the effects of pesticides in individuals and ecological changes in biological communities and ecosystems in regions where intensive farming is practiced.

An important role is played by number of rare studies combining experimental fieldwork and research on sections of ecosystems, as well as a broad selection of chemical and biological analyses. An interdisciplinary approach can plausibly demonstrate connections between the effects of chemicals in humans and animals and the often indirect consequences on the population, community and ecosystem levels.

Köhler and Triebskorn also postulate interdependent effects between pesticides and global warming. The researchers forecast changes to "natural" selection, the spread of infections, and the sexual development and fertility of wild animals. This in turn could have a knock-on effect on populations, ecosystems and food chains. The researchers say it is a further challenge for science to show how strongly the effects of pesticides are influenced by climate change -- and to find out which ecological processes are especially sensitive to this interdependence. "The links to the effect of pesticides at every level of increasing biological complexity require more thorough research," say Köhler and Triebskorn.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. H.-R. Kohler, R. Triebskorn. Wildlife Ecotoxicology of Pesticides: Can We Track Effects to the Population Level and Beyond? Science, 2013; 341 (6147): 759 DOI: 10.1126/science.1237591

Cite This Page:

Universitaet Tübingen. "Do herbicides alter ecosystems around the world? Scant research makes it hard to prove." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130816094634.htm>.
Universitaet Tübingen. (2013, August 16). Do herbicides alter ecosystems around the world? Scant research makes it hard to prove. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130816094634.htm
Universitaet Tübingen. "Do herbicides alter ecosystems around the world? Scant research makes it hard to prove." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130816094634.htm (accessed September 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

Obama: No Nation Gets Pass on Climate Change

AP (Sep. 23, 2014) — In a forceful appeal for international cooperation on limiting carbon pollution, President Barack Obama warned world leaders at the UN Climate Summit on Tuesday that the globe's climate is changing faster than efforts to address it. (Sept. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

Hundreds of Thousands Hit NYC Streets to Protest Climate Change

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — Celebrities, political leaders and the masses rallied in New York and across the globe demanding urgent action on climate change, with organizers saying 600,000 people hit the streets. Duration: 01:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

Raw: Protesters Stage Wall Street Climate Sit-in

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) — A day after over 100,000 people marched against climate change, more than 1,000 activists blocked parts of Manhattan's financial district. Over 100 people, including a person wearing a white polar bear suit, were arrested Monday night. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

French FM Urges 'powerful' Response to Global Warming

AFP (Sep. 22, 2014) — French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Monday warned about the potential "catastrophe" if global warming was not dealt with in a "powerful" way. Duration: 01:08 Video provided by AFP
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