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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Bats' Category


18
May

Bat Losses Costing American Farmers Half a Billion Dollars Annually

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2022) Bat population declines are costing American farmers as much as $495 million each year, finds research published this month in the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Since 2006, a devastating fungal pathogen known as  Pseudogymnoascus destructans has torn through U.S. bat populations, causing a disease known as White Nose Syndrome that has killed over 90% of northern long eared, little brown, and tricolored bats. As researchers try to get a handle on the devastating and rapidly spreading disease, the effects are becoming apparent in agriculture as farmers lose their critical ecosystem services. “Lost bat populations have harmful ripple effects on food and agriculture,” says study coauthor Amy Ando, PhD. “Crop yields fall and input costs rise as farmers try to compensate for the services bats usually provide. That drives down the value of farmland and the number of acres planted, and the supply shock probably also hurts consumers as ag production becomes more costly.” White nose syndrome and its fungal pathogen were first discovered in a cave in New York in the mid-2000s, having likely traveled from Europe on the gear of a hiker or spelunker. The syndrome is characterized by […]

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15
Apr

Beyond Pesticides Makes Science-based Case that It Is Imperative to Phase Out Pesticides in a Decade

The organic solutions to problems highlighted in the latest issue of Pesticides and You—based on the importance of healthy ecosystems and public health protection—are within reach, and the data creates an imperative for action now that phases out pesticides within a decade, while ensuring food productivity, resilient land management, and safe food, air, and water. (Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2022) The current issue of Pesticides and You, RETROSPECTIVE 2021: A Call to Urgent Action, is a look at a year of science, policy, and advocacy that informs both the existential problems that the U.S. and the world are facing due to toxic pesticide dependency, and solutions that can be adopted now. The information in this issue captures the body of science that empowers action at the local, state, and federal level, and provides a framework for challenging toxic pesticide use and putting alternatives in place. The issue finds that 2021 was a pivotal year in both defining the problem and advancing the solution. This year in review is divided into nine sections that provide an accounting of scientific findings documenting serious pesticide-induced health and environmental effects, disproportionate risk to people of color and those with preexisting conditions, regulatory failures, at the same time […]

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29
Sep

Conventional Agriculture Decreases Diversity of Gut Bacteria in Foraging Bats

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2021) Bats foraging in chemical-intensive banana plantations have much less gut diversity than bats foraging in organic banana fields and natural forestland, finds research published this month in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Although there is increasing recognition that a diet of conventional, chemically grown food leads to adverse disruptions of the gut microbiome (also known as dysbiosis), little research has been conducted on the effect of production practices on the gut of wild foraging species. According to the present study there are significant differences that regulators must begin to account for in pesticide risk assessments, and consumers should consider when making choices at the supermarket. Researchers focused their investigation on Pallas’s long-tongued bat (Glossophaga soricina), a nectar feeding bat native to Central and South America. The bat is highly adapted to human environments, sustaining populations in both conventional and organic banana plantations, as well as surrounding forest land. For the study, researchers trapped nearly 200 bats across the country of Costa Rica over a 22-month time span. After trapping, physiological characteristics, like size and body weight, were measured, and bat guano was analyzed for its microbial population. All sampled bats were released back […]

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19
Mar

Vermont Committee Recommends Mosquito Spray Program Needs Special Permit to Operate

(Beyond Pesticides, March 19, 2021) As reported by VTDigger, Vermont’s Endangered Species Committee recently took action to uphold the state’s endangered species law. The committee announced that a mosquito control program in the Champlain Valley, which uses the toxic pesticides malathion and permethrin, is threatening five species of endangered bats — all of which are on Vermont’s list of threatened and endangered species. The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the state Secretary of the Agency of Natural Resources that the spraying program in the Brandon, Leicester, Salisbury, Goshen, Pittsford Insect Control District be allowed only via special permit. Learn about safer mosquito management and insect-borne diseases at Beyond Pesticides website pages. The bats inhabit the Insect Control District’s five towns, which are host to important feeding habitat for these creatures, as well as maternal roosting colonies where baby bats are born and raised during the months when the pesticides are typically sprayed. In addition, the nighttime spraying of these compounds along 190 miles of road in these communities hangs in the air for hours, putting nocturnally active bats — who fly through the toxic mist or consume insects contaminated with the chemicals — at risk. Mason Overstreet of Vermont […]

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10
Dec

New Test Will Help Researchers Understand Pesticide Threats to Wild Bat Populations

(Beyond Pesticides, December 10, 2020) A new test developed by a team of Mexican and Canadian scientists will help field researchers detect early warning signs of pesticide exposure in wild bat populations. There are relatively few studies on the effects of pesticide exposure on bat populations, the authors note in a study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, but there is considerable need to monitor the health of these important species. “Access to resources might be limited for institutions with less financial support such as conservation NGOs and researchers in developing countries,” said co-author Natalia Sandoval-Herrera, PhD. “The use of early warning biomarkers such as genotoxic effects are most needed in these regions, where the use of pesticides is extensive and there is high biodiversity.” The test in question is referred to as a micronucleus test. Although it does not measure the level of pesticide contaminating a bat’s body, it can assess genotoxicity (the effect of pesticides and other chemical agents that damage genetic information in a cell). This is done by taking blood samples of bats, and testing for the presence of micronuclei formation, which are materials in blood that contain damaged chromosomes not incorporated into a cell after […]

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29
Apr

Bats’ Voracious Appetite for Agricultural Pests and Mosquitoes Are a Part of Nature’s Balance

(Beyond Pesticides, April 29, 2020) The terrible reputation with which bats are commonly saddled — especially now, because of their association with the origins of the family of coronaviruses — is undeserved. These nocturnal insect vacuums are fascinating, flying mammals that are under-appreciated, not least for their performance of important services for ecosystems, and for human health and agriculture. Investigators from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University and the Section for Evolutionary Genomics at Copenhagen’s Natural History Museum recently published a study demonstrating that bats can be a mighty tool against pests that damage cotton crops. Bats’ pest control services — relatively invisible because they do their insect marauding at night when humans are not watching — represent an excellent, nontoxic, biological control for some agricultural pests, as well as for mosquitoes that may be human disease vectors. Advocates say that these services should be well considered before any decision to use toxic pesticides that can harm bats, as Beyond Pesticides has covered. The study, “An appetite for pests: Synanthropic insectivorous bats exploit cotton pest irruptions and consume various deleterious arthropods,” was published in Molecular Ecology. [Note: “synanthropic” species are those plants or animals that live near, and benefit from, association with humans […]

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