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 July 31, 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 July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) — Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) — A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) — Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
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