Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Are banana farms contaminating Costa Rica's crocs?

Date:
September 19, 2013
Source:
Wiley
Summary:
Shoppers spend over £10 billion on bananas annually and now this demand is being linked to the contamination of Central America's crocodilians. New research analyzes blood samples from spectacled caiman in Costa Rica and finds that intensive pesticide use in plantations leads to contaminated species in protected conservation areas.

Spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus).
Credit: Paul Grant

Shoppers spend over £10 billion on bananas annually and now this demand is being linked to the contamination of Central America's crocodilians. New research, published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, analyses blood samples from spectacled caiman in Costa Rica and finds that intensive pesticide use in plantations leads to contaminated species in protected conservation areas.

Related Articles


"Banana plantations are big business in Costa Rica, which exports an estimated 1.8 million tonnes per year; 10% of the global total," said author Paul Grant from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. "The climate of the country's North East is ideal for bananas; however, the Rio Suerte, which flows through this major banana producing area, drains into the Tortuguero Conservation Area."

Tortuguero is home to the spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus), one of the most common species of crocodilian in Central America. This freshwater predator is known to be highly adaptive, feeding on fish, crustaceans and in the case of larger specimens, wild pigs.

Due to the increased global demand for fruit, pesticide use has more than doubled across Central America in the past twenty years. In Costa Rica, which ranks second in the world for intensity of pesticide use, the problem of contamination is compounded by environmental conditions and lax enforcement of regulations.

"Frequent heavy rains can wash pesticides from plantation areas, leading to contamination and the reapplication of sprays to the crops," said Grant. "Without adequate enforcement of regulations dangerous practices such as aerial spraying close to streams or washing application equipment in rivers also contributes to contamination downstream."

The team collected blood samples from 14 adult caiman and analyzed them for traces of 70 types of pesticide. Caiman within the high intensity banana crop watershed of Rio Suerte had higher pesticide burdens relative to other more remote locations.

The nine pesticides detected in the caiman blood were identified as insecticides. Of these seven were listed as Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPS), banned under the 2011 Stockholm Convention.

"Caiman near banana plantations had higher pesticide burdens and lower body condition," said Grant. "This suggests that either pesticides pose a health risk to caiman, or that pesticides harm the habitat and food supply of caiman, thereby reducing the health of this predator."

As long-lived species atop the food chain crocodilians provide an integrated assessment of the fate of pesticides in tropical areas and can be indicative of pesticide damage throughout the ecosystem.

"Caiman and other aquatic species have been exposed to pesticides from upstream banana plantations, even in remote areas of a national wilderness area," concluded Grant. "Banana plantations may be economically important to Costa Rica; however their erosion of aquatic ecosystems highlights the need for a developed regulatory infrastructure and adequate enforcement."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Paul B.c. Grant, Million B. Woudneh, Peter S. Ross. Pesticides in blood from spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) downstream of banana plantations in Costa Rica. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, September 2013 DOI: 10.1002/etc.2358

Cite This Page:

Wiley. "Are banana farms contaminating Costa Rica's crocs?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 September 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085807.htm>.
Wiley. (2013, September 19). Are banana farms contaminating Costa Rica's crocs?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085807.htm
Wiley. "Are banana farms contaminating Costa Rica's crocs?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130919085807.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Weird-Looking Dinosaur Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — You've probably seen some weird-looking dinosaurs, but have you ever seen one this weird? It's worth a look. 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:

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