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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Biodiversity' Category


26
May

EU Proposes 2030 Goal to Reduce Pesticide Use by 50% and Increase Arable Land in Organic Production by At Least 17%

(Beyond Pesticides, May 26, 2020) Across the pond, the European Commission (EC) has announced plans to protect biodiversity and build a more sustainable food system, and identified the reduction of pesticide use  and the expansion of organic agriculture as pillars of the scheme. The EC expects that the initiative, which will require EU member states’ endorsement, will advance progress on the EU goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, given that 10% of emissions arise from the agricultural sector. The EC’s goals are important and laudable, but Beyond Pesticides is clear: reduction of pesticide use in service of them is not an adequate strategy to ensure long-term success. Genuine success requires the elimination of the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and other toxic inputs, and the transition to agricultural and land management systems that work with nature, rather than fight against it. Regenerative, organic practices are the path to a livable future, according to Beyond Pesticides. The EC, which is the executive branch of the EU, expects its plan to reduce use of pesticides by 50% by 2030; reduce use of antimicrobial chemicals, including antibiotics, in fish and animal farming by 50%; dedicate a minimum of 25% of arable […]

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18
May

Beyond Pesticides Lawsuit Challenges Exxon for Deceptive Claims of Significant Investments in Solving the Climate Crisis, Cites Petrochemical Pesticides

(Beyond Pesticides, May 18, 2020) On May 15, 2020, Beyond Pesticides sued Exxon Mobil Corporation (Exxon) for “false and deceptive marketing,” misrepresenting to consumers that it “has invested significantly in the production and use of “clean” energy and environmentally beneficial technology.” The truth, according to the complaint (Beyond Pesticides v. Exxon Mobil Corporation) filed in DC Superior Court, is that the vast majority of Exxon’s business continues to be in the production and use of petroleum, natural gas, and petrochemicals, including pesticides. These activities are significant contributors to the climate crisis and the decline of pollinators and biodiversity, threatening the viability of biological systems that sustain life, according to Beyond Pesticides. “ExxonMobil’s advertising and marketing mislead the public by presenting ExxonMobil’s clean energy activities as a significant proportion of its overall business,” according the lawsuit. In an age where consumers are looking to support responsible companies that are supporting and transitioning away from fossil fuel-based energy and chemical products, “ExxonMobil is able to capture the growing market of consumers,” according to the complaint. Surveys have found that consumers are more likely to buy products and services based on corporate image. For example, a 2015 Nielsen survey finds that the majority […]

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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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28
Apr

One Quarter of Global Insect Population Lost Since 1990

(Beyond Pesticides, April 28, 2020) Roughly a quarter of the global insect population has been wiped out since 1990, according to new research published in the journal Science. Billed as one of the most comprehensive assessments to date, the study finds significant overall insect declines, but notes of some specific bright spots. While variation in the ongoing crisis is to be expected, ultimately the trends in the data show the need for immediate policy and regulatory action to protect the insect world as the foundation of global food webs. The team of European scientists behind the research analyzed 166 studies spread out over 41 countries, and consisting of over 1,600 sites, with data beginning in the mid-1920s. Overall trends found declines in terrestrial insect biomass to be nearly 1% each year (~9% each decade). However, contrasting this data was a bright spot – freshwater insects were found to be increasing at an annual rate just over 1% (~11% each decade). The authors caution, however, that because fresh water covers only 2.4% of the earth’s surface, the increase may not be a good spatial representative of broader trends. While North America appeared to show more significant declines when compared to Europe, […]

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17
Mar

Monarch Population, Under Threat from Pesticide Use and Habitat Loss, Declines by Half in One Year

(Beyond Pesticides, March 17, 2020) The number of monarch butterflies overwintering in Mexico is down 53% from last year, according to a count conducted by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mexico. While WWF indicates the decline was expected due to unfavorable weather conditions during the species southward migration, other environmental groups are raising red flags. “Scientists were expecting the count to be down slightly, but this level of decrease is heartbreaking,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Monarchs unite us, and more protections are clearly needed for these migratory wonders and their habitat.” WWF’s count found that monarchs occupied seven acres this winter, down from 15 acres last year. Reports indicate that 15 acres is a minimum threshold needed to prevent a collapse of the butterfly’s migration and possible extinction. This was the goal stated by the 2015 White House Pollinator Task Force, which the current administration is failing to see through. While weather conditions play an important role in monarch migration from the U.S. and Canada south to Mexico, the species is under threat from a range of environmental factors. Monarchs depend on milkweed plants to lay eggs, and monarch caterpillars feed solely on […]

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09
Mar

Plant Organic Seeds and Plants; Tell Your State to Act to Protect Pollinators This Spring

(Beyond Pesticides, March 9, 2020) It’s time to think about gardening! Whether you’re growing vegetables to eat or flowers for pollinators, you’ll want to be sure that your seeds and plants are free from harmful pesticides. Seeds and plants in many garden centers across the country are grown from seeds coated with toxic fungicides and bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides, or drenched with them. Plant organic seeds and plants! As bees suffer serious declines in their populations, we urge people and communities to plant habitat that supports pollinator populations, and have provided information to facilitate this in our BEE Protective Habitat Guide. However, plants are too often grown with hazardous pesticides that either harm pollinators in their cultivation or threaten bees as they pollinate or forage on treated plants. For more information on the dangers of neonicotinoid coated seeds, see Beyond Pesticides’ short video Seeds That Poison. Beyond Pesticides has compiled a directory of companies and organizations that sell organic seeds and plants to the general public. Included in this directory are seeds for vegetables, flowers, and herbs, as well as living plants and seedlings. Specific questions on each seller’s seeds can be directed to their customer service line. You can also download a handy bi-fold brochure version of this […]

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06
Mar

Baby Bees’ Brain Growth Adversely Affected by Neonicotinoid Insecticides

(Beyond Pesticides, March 6, 2020) Scientists from Imperial College London have just published their recent research on impacts of pesticides on larval bumblebees exposed through neonicotinoid-contaminated food sources. Many studies have looked at the devastating impacts of pesticides on adult insects, including pollinators — and bees, in particular. This research, however, examines how exposure to the neonicotinoid imidacloprid, through consumption of contaminated nectar and pollen during the larval stage, affects bumblebees (Bombus terrestris audax). It finds that these exposures cause abnormal brain growth in some parts of the bees’ brains, and significantly impairs learning ability compared to bees who were not exposed. Advocates maintain that neonicotinoid pesticides should be banned for their widespread and severe damage to insects and the environment broadly, in addition to human health concerns. Neonicotinoids (neonics) comprise a class of pesticide used intensively in many parts of the world. They may be applied to plant foliage, or directly to soils as a drench, but the predominant use is for seed treatment. These pesticides are banned or restricted in some places, including in the European Union, France, Germany, and Italy; some states have also worked to rein in their use. Previous research out of Harvard University has […]

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05
Mar

Glyphosate Causes Biodiversity Loss in Freshwater Ecosystems, According to Study

Experimental ponds in Gault Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Vincent Fugère (Beyond Pesticides, March 5, 2020) A new study conducted by researchers at McGill University investigated phytoplankton (microscopic algae) response and resilience to Roundup exposure. “Community rescue in experimental phytoplankton communities facing severe herbicide pollution” was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution. Researchers found that algae can develop resistance to contamination, but surviving phytoplankton communities are much less diverse. Diversity loss is cause for concern as it could hinder adaptation to other potential stressors, such as climate change.  Using experimental ponds, researchers first exposed some phytoplankton communities to low levels of Roundup over time, then dosed the ponds with a lethal amount.  Groups that had been given low doses survived the lethal phase whereas unpolluted, control ponds did not. Researchers observed “community rescue,” where genetic changes avert population collapse in a lethal environment. In fact, glyphosate eventually became a fertilizer in resistant ponds as it is a significant source of phosphorus. Other studies, too, have noted that phosphorous loading is an overlooked impact of glyphosate contamination. Phytoplankton matter because their disruption can cause a trophic cascade and impact other organisms. “These tiny species at the bottom of the food chain play […]

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21
Feb

Minnesota Introduces Bee-Friendly Pesticide Legislation and Fights for Local Rights

(Beyond Pesticides, February 21, 2020) Last week in Minnesota, state Representative Jean Wagenius introduced measure H.F. 1255 that would give cities the opportunity to ban local use of bee-lethal pesticides. This is the latest in a series of attempts to fight state pesticide preemption, an industry-promoted law that prevents localities from restricting pesticide use more stringently than the state. In the face of inaction at the federal and state levels, advocates and legislators in Minnesota are attempting to regain local control to help save their declining, Midwestern pollinators. Representative Wagenius says about the measure, “Minnesotans should be able to protect pollinators if they want to. We value local control in this state, and we always have.” H.F. 1255 will allow cities to opt into a blanket ban of pesticides determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be hazardous to bees. Pesticides with an EPA bee-advisory box are listed on the state’s Department of Agriculture website and referred to as “bee-lethal” by Minnesota legislators. Patrick Hanlon, director of environmental programs for the city of Minneapolis, says cities would work with Department of Agriculture, businesses, and residents that might be impacted by these restrictions before enacting the bill. Local advocates have […]

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19
Feb

Experts Identify Fireflies as the Latest Victim of the Ongoing Insect Apocalypse

(Beyond Pesticides, February 19, 2020) The ongoing insect apocalypse isn’t sparing the iconic firefly. In an article published this month, “A Global Perspective on Firefly Extinction Threats,” experts are sounding the alarm over declines in fireflies attributed to habitat loss, light pollution, and indiscriminate pesticide use. “Our goal is to make this knowledge available for land managers, policy makers and firefly fans everywhere,” said study co-author Sonny Wong, PhD, of the Malaysian Nature Society to USA Today. “We want to keep fireflies lighting up our nights for a long, long time.” Although there is scant monitoring data on firefly populations, studies that have been conducted over the last decade, alongside anecdotal reports and expert opinion, have led to international concern. To assess conservation status and threats to firefly species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) established a Firefly Specialist Group. The study, part of the specialist group’s investigation, surveyed firefly experts from around the world on what they viewed as the primary threats to firefly populations. Experts specified habitat loss, light pollution, and pesticide use as the three top concerns, though water pollution, tourism, invasive species, and climate change were also discussed as minor contributing factors. Night-time […]

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03
Feb

Save Mayflies and the Ecosystems that Depend on Them

(Beyond Pesticides, February 3, 2020) In more bad news from the insect world, recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals a precipitous decline in numbers of mayflies where they have been historically abundant. The research finds that in the Northern Mississippi River Basin, seasonal emergence of burrowing mayfly (genus Hexagenia) adults declined by 52% from 2012 to 2019; in the Western Lake Erie Basin, from 2015 to 2019, the reduction was a shocking 84%. Neonicotinoid insecticides are a significant factor in this decline because mayflies are extremely vulnerable to their impacts, even at very low exposure levels. Ask Congress to tell EPA, USDA, and the Department of Interior to develop a joint effort to ensure that its decisions and compliance with its authorizing statutes address the crisis of the threat to mayflies. Ephemeroptera to entomologists—“mayflies” to the rest of us—is an insect order comprising keystone species, on which other species in an ecosystem are very dependent, and without which, the ecosystem would undergo drastic change. The plummeting mayfly “count” is especially alarming because mayflies are a critical, primary food source in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and provide an important ecological service. As the research study notes, “Seasonal animal movement […]

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23
Dec

Take Action: USDA’s National Organic Program Must Protect Biodiversity

(Beyond Pesticides, December 23, 2019) An unintended consequence of the National Organic Standards, the rules that govern certified organic agricultural production, actually provides an incentive for the conversion of critical ecosystems to organic cropland, fueling deforestation and biodiversity loss. Tell the National Organic Program to issue regulations that will prevent the conversion of native ecosystems to organic cropland. One National Organic Program (NOP) requirement for organic certification—a three-year waiting period during which land must be free of disallowed substances—encourages the conversion of critical ecosystems, which do not require the three-year waiting period. Conversions of native landscapes to working organic land to date include losses of: a California forest, Colorado prairies, a New Mexico wetland, and native sagebrush lands in Washington and Oregon. The Wild Farm Alliance, which provides critical leadership on the issue, points out, “These areas, that were once delivering critical ecosystem services and providing essential habitat for wildlife, are no longer performing the same functions and [it] would take hundreds of years to reverse the damage.” The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is responsible for advising the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), has been studying this problem since 2009, ultimately resulting […]

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07
Nov

Minneapolis Park Board Investigates Pesticide Contamination; On Nov. 11, Attend Film and Join with Advocates to Advance Organic

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7, 2018) A former employee of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board claims that other staff members misused and disposed of pesticides in protected areas next to Lake Harriet. The controversy comes at a pivotal moment for Minneapolis, as Minneapolis Public School District and the Park and Recreation Board are beginning a demonstration organic land management project on a number of properties. Advocates are pushing for organic land management as an alternative to chemical-intensive practices. Minneapolis gardener Angee Ohmah Siegal says she was at the Lyndale Park Peace Garden when she saw parks staff spraying herbicides on a windy day. According to Russ Henry, a local advocate who she told her story to, Siegal had to head to the hospital due to “uncontrollable vomiting.” What more, Siegal claims that the same employees would dump unused or leftover pesticides into a pond beside the Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Mr. Henry and Ms. Siegal issued their complaint with Park Board commissioners on October 2, carrying a large poster of a mutated frog with six legs that Ms. Siegal says she had photographed near the area. Commissioners are investigating further into the allegations but say they need more specific evidence. Volunteers […]

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26
Sep

Settlement Reached to Protect Habitat of Endangered Bumblebee

(Beyond Pesticides, September 27, 2019) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be required to protect the habitat of the endangered rusty patched bumblebee, per a settlement with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reached earlier this week. The bee was listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 2017, but USFWS has yet to designate the “critical habitat” for the bee where improved protections must be made to ensure its recovery. With the decline of both wild and managed pollinators throughout the U.S., action on this issue by federal agencies is sorely needed. According to NRDC, the settlement will require FWS to propose critical habitat by July 31, 2020, unless it makes a finding that habitat protections are not prudent. The Service must then finalize any habitat protections by July 31, 2021. Under ESA, FWS is required to designate the critical habitat of a listed species within one year of its listing if not included within its listing announcement. Thus, by drawing out this process, FWS is flouting this important action that will lead to real on-the-ground protections. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has violated federal law—again—by not designating critical habitat for the rusty patched bumble bee,” […]

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24
Sep

Study Finds Three Billion Birds Lost Since 1970: “Early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song”

(Beyond Pesticides, September 24, 2019) “Over increasingly large areas of the United States, spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of bird song,” Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring in 1962. New research finds that quote has held true since it was written. Over three billion birds, or 29% of 1970s abundance have been lost in North America over the last 50 years. To make these dismal determinations, scientists drew from multiple long-term bird monitoring datasets, and a network of nearly 150 weather radars that pick up and thus have recorded the trajectory of migratory birds. Long-term surveys helped scientists determine the 3 billion bird decline, while satellite data found that migratory bird abundance has declined by 9.1% since 2007. In general, 57% of bird species are in decline, with showing the largest loss. Ninety percent of all declines were within 12 bird families: American sparrows, warblers, blackbirds, larks, Old world sparrows, swallows, nightjars, swifts, finches, flycatchers, starlings, and thrushes. Only waterfowl and wetland bird species showed any increase, 13% and 56%, respectively. Ducks, geese, and raptors all improved population levels more […]

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23
Sep

Take Action: Help Prevent Species Extinction

(Beyond Pesticides, September 23, 2019)  Your voice is making a difference! Last month, thousands of individuals took action through Beyond Pesticides and other environmental groups to express concern to their federal lawmakers about the Trump Administration’s assault on the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In response, U.S. Representatives Grijalva, Beyer, and Dingell in the House, and Senator Udall in the Senate have introduced the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019. This law will roll back Interior Department regulations that would weaken this landmark law protecting species from extinction. Tell your member of Congress to co-sponsor the PAW and FIN Conservation Act of 2019! The PAW and FIN Act reverses rules which will: (i) weaken the consultation process designed to prevent harm to endangered animals and their habitats from federal agency activities; (ii) curtail the designation of critical habitat and weakens the listing process for imperiled species; and (iii) eliminate all protections for wildlife newly designated as “threatened” under the Act. Biodiversity is under threat in the US and throughout the world. Pollinator declines are well known, and now scientists are indicating we are in the midst of an insect apocalypse.  Declines at the bottom of the food chain are even more concerning given […]

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18
Sep

Study Finds that Regenerative Agriculture Is Undermined by Toxic Pesticide Use

(Beyond Pesticides, September 18, 2019) A new report published by Friends of the Earth (FOE), “Pesticides and Soil Health” highlights healthy soil as a key pillar of regenerative, organic agriculture. There are numerous methods that regenerative agriculture utilizes to maximize soil health such as cover cropping, crop rotation, and compost applications. FOE focuses in on an often-overlooked aspect to soil health, “that eliminating or greatly reducing toxic pesticides is key to building healthy soils and ecosystems for a healthy planet.” Beyond Pesticides has long believed that toxic pesticide use has no place in organic and regenerative land management practices and that they can and should be eliminated. According to Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides and former member of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) said, “Pesticide reduction strategies that allow continued use of toxic substances undermine the soil biology and biodiversity that is critical to healthy plants and  unnecessary to achieving pest management goals.” “It’s past time to talk elimination of toxic pesticides and nothing short of that.” Toxic pesticides have a diverse range of unintended impacts, including  cancer and other diseases to those exposed via usage or drift, and crop loss. Lesser known is the impact that pesticides […]

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12
Sep

Youth Ask Public to Join the Global Climate Strike September 20-27

(Beyond Pesticides, September 12, 2019) This September, adults will join in a global climate strike spurred by the Fridays for Future school climate strike movement. Environmentalists around the world are galvanizing the public to participate in youth-led disruption in order to bring attention to the climate crisis. U.S. strike demands include a Green New Deal, respect for indigenous land and sovereignty, environmental justice, protecting biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture. The strike will kick off on Friday, September 20 and actions will continue until the next Friday, September 27. Fridays for Future started when then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg began striking in 2018 in front of the Riksdag – the Swedish parliament. She was inspired by U.S. teens who refused to go back to school and instead organized a massive national protest for gun control after the Parkland, Florida shooting. Ms. Thunberg gained publicity and captured a global audience with her clear voice and piercing castigation of adults in power who, “are sh–ting on my future.” Ms. Thunberg has, among other diagnoses, Asperger Syndrome. She attributes her ability to articulate the climate crisis to her capacity to think differently and see things in “black and white.” In an interview with TIME Magazine, she stated, “The climate crisis […]

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15
Aug

Chemical-Intensive Agriculture Is Increasingly Toxic to Insects

(Beyond Pesticides, August 15, 2019) An article in the journal Plos One, “An assessment of acute insecticide toxicity loading (AITL) of chemical pesticides used on agricultural land in the United States,” shows that recent shifts in insecticide use—from organophosphates and carbamates to synthetic pyrethroids and neonicotinoids—have made a large contribution to the ongoing insect apocalypse. This shift to insecticides that target insects based on both selective toxicity and delivery method occurs within a context of shrinking habitat and biodiversity. The study, by Michael DiBartolomeis, PhD, Susan Kegley, PhD, Pierre Mineau, PhD, Rosemarie Radford, and Kendra Klein, PhD, presents a measure of acute insecticide toxicity loading that incorporates acute toxicity, quantity used, and the rate at which the insecticide degrades. Goulson et al. applied a similar measure in Great Britain that did not incorporate the rate of degradation. Both studies use the median lethal dose (LD50) to honey bees as a measure of acute toxicity and calculate the potential number of bee deaths based on the number of lethal doses of various insecticides applied in the field. In both cases, researchers used toxicity estimates for honey bees because they are widely available. Other insects may be more or less sensitive. The […]

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06
Jun

Pesticide Use Kills Off Mosquito Predators Faster than Target Mosquitoes

(Beyond Pesticides, June 6, 2019) Pesticide use eliminates pest predators and permits mosquito populations to flourish, according to research conducted in Costa Rica by scientists at Utah State University. The new study, “Adaptation to agricultural pesticides may allow mosquitoes to avoid predators and colonize novel ecosystems,” highlights the dangers of human intervention through broad scale pesticide applications, and the urgent need to consider ecosystem-wide impacts before allowing chemicals to be placed on the market. As lead study author Edd Hammill, PhD, told National Geographic, the investigation got its start after he observed higher numbers of mosquitoes in orange groves he was visiting, when compared to other, non-agricultural areas. “We felt like we were getting a lot more mosquito bites in plantations than in pristine areas and started to wonder why,” noted Dr. Hammill. The study focuses first on the role that bromeliads, a tropical flowering plant that grows on tree branches, play in affecting mosquito populations. Mosquitoes use the water that these plants catch in between their leaves to lay eggs. Many other species are found to lay eggs within the leaves, including the top-level predator in this system, the damselfly. Dr. Hammill’s team looked at community composition within bromeliad […]

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03
Jun

Take Action: Governors Need to Protect Biodiversity Amid Massive Ecological Decline

(Beyond Pesticides, June 3, 2019) As the signs of environmental crises tied to pesticide use escalate and the need for action becomes more urgent, elected officials at the state level must step up to meet the challenges to protect biodiversity and ecosystems essential to life. Waiting on Congress to act allows precious time to pass without critically needed action. The White House fails to acknowledge scientific findings about adverse effects that threaten the sustainability of the environment and human survival. In the last several months, key pieces of science call for dramatic action to eliminate toxic pesticide use and put organic and sustainable practices in place. Ask Your Governor to Issue an Executive Order to Protect the Ecosystems and Biodiversity of Your State. *A 1,500-page assessment from the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity project — the IPBES [Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services] Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers is the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization. The findings, approved by an intergovernmental body of 132 member states, including the U.S., provide a devastating assessment of the state of biodiversity and of ecosystem services, which support the delicate balance of nature. *The “crash” of […]

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29
May

Citizen Scientist Farmers Use Worms to Analyze Soil Health

(Beyond Pesticides, May 29, 2019) A soil health monitoring study in England finds that an alarming 42% of surveyed fields are deficient in a wriggly measurement—earthworm populations. Over half the farmers recruited in this citizen science evaluation said they planned to change their soil management practices as a result of the earthworm monitoring results. The #60minworms method, named for the time it takes to conduct, is to dig a soil pit and place the soil onto a mat, then sort out the earthworms into a bucket. After sorting, the total number of earthworms is counted, and juveniles are returned to the soil. Adults are sorted and recorded by type using a simple key (surface worms: epigeic—small and red, anecic—pale or green; deep-burrowing worms: endogeic—heavily pigmented and large). This is repeated ten times using a W-style sampling pattern across a field. Jacqueline Stroud, PhD, the study author and soil scientist, developed survey booklets to distribute to volunteer farmers. Recruitment methods included events, workshops, and Twitter. Farmers conducted tests on their own private land during a 6-week window in 2018. They recorded their results in the given booklets and sent the information for analysis. A total of 126 fields were surveyed. Worm data […]

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10
May

UN Brings Together 145 Experts, 50 Countries, 15,000 Studies, Documents Accelerating Biodiversity Loss Threatening All Life; Ecosystem Protections Urgently Needed

(Beyond Pesticides, May 10, 2019) The Earth, its natural systems, and as many as a million species are at enormous risk from human activity, says a new assessment from the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity project — the IPBES Global Assessment Summary for Policymakers. The net finding might be expressed as: humans are not immune from the sequelae of biodiversity loss; the ecosystem functions on which human lives depend are in increasingly dire straits. The 1,500-page report, convened by IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), is the most comprehensive look to date at the biodiversity crisis and its implications for human civilization. A summary of the report’s findings, approved by representatives from the U.S. and other member countries, was released in Paris on May 6; the complete report is expected later in 2019. It is of note and commendable that the summary, though lengthy, is digestible for a lay audience. IPBES is an intergovernmental body of 132 member states, established in 2012, that assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services such diversity provides to societies. The group also provides reporting to policymakers on those assessments, and on the dynamics (i.e., causes and impacts) between human […]

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