Catastrophic Bird Decline Due To Pesticides But In An Unexpected Way https://www.naturalblaze.com/2018/03/catastrophic-bird-decline-pesticides.html
It seems the trail of destruction left behind by the use of heavy pesticides is never ending. Besides the well-known negative effects of pesticides such as glyphosate on human health and the use of certain chemicals on the bee population, there is now damning evidence that they are taking a major toll on the bird population.
Two studies were conducted in France – one study conducted on the national level and another focused on a large agricultural region – whose results have demonstrated a decline in dozens of bird species, some of them as much as 2/3 decline over the last decade and a half.
Benoit Fontaine, conservation biologist at France’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of one of the studies that “The situation is catastrophic.”
“Our countryside is in the process of becoming a veritable desert,” he said in National Centre for Scientific Research communique, which also contributed to the research.
Among the species that are exhibiting decline are the common white throat, Eurasian skylark, ortolan bunting, and other birds that were once extremely common.
One bird – the meadow pit – a migratory song bird has declined in population by nearly 70%.
The museum described the bird decline as “a level approaching an ecological catastrophe.”
The researchers are speculating that the reason for the die off is the intense use of pesticide on intensely farmed monoculture crops, particularly corn and wheat. But the problem isn’t that the birds themselves are being poisoned but that there are no more insects left for them to eat.
“There are hardly any insects left, that’s the number one problem,” said Vincent Bretagnolle, a CNRS ecologist at the Centre for Biological Studies in Chize.
He notes that recent research has discovered that, across Europe, flying insects have declined by 80% and bird populations have dropped by more than 400 million over a period of 30 years.
The government has announced its intentions to cut pesticide use in half by 2020 but the sales of pesticides in France are still climbing.
“What is really alarming, is that all the birds in an agricultural setting are declining at the same speed, even ’generalist’ birds,” which also thrive in other settings such as wooded areas, said Bretagnolle.
“That shows that the overall quality of the agricultural eco-system is deteriorating.”
Stats coming from the national survey which uses a network of volunteer ornithologists shows that the die offs have gotten worse and accelerated in 2016 and 2017.
But the lack of edible insects is not the only reason for the bird die-offs according to some of these scientists. There is also the issue of shrinking woodlands, the expansion of mono agriculture, and the gradual decline of allowing fields to repair themselves.
“If the situation is not yet irreversible, all the actors in the agriculture sector must work together to change their practices,” Fontaine said.
In other words, if France and the rest of the world want to change things, they had better start taking measures now if it isn’t already too late.