Pesticides for Agriculture Killing Aquatic Insects in the Wild
New research has found that the use of common pesticides in Europe and Australia has killed up to 42 percent of invertebrates, which make up about 95 percent of all animal species.
A team of German and Australian researchers studied the impact of the chemicals on the biodiversity of invertebrates in flowing waters of Germany, France and the Australian state of Victoria.
The study examined the effects of insecticides and fungicides that have been deemed “safe” for widespread use.
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists report considerable losses in the biodiversity of aquatic insects and other freshwater invertebrates because of the use of the chemicals, as compared to the species in non-contaminated areas.
They warn that some of the insects being killed, like mayflies, caddisflies and dragonflies, are important food sources for other animals.
This means their losses affect animals up the food chain to birds and fish. Companies that manufacture the pesticides are required to prove that they break down quickly and have only limited effects on the ecosystem.
But researchers point out that those tests are mostly conducted in laboratory conditions that don’t always accurately reflect what happens in the wild.