We’ve written recently about animals that are missing orturning up in the wrong places due to global warming and thepole shift. A recent “bug splat” test in the U.K. found manyfewer insects that expected. And all over the world,scientists are finding hyperactive fish, stupid frogs,fearless mice and seagulls that fall over?all due topollution.
How can you tell if there are fewer insects around? Inbbcnews.com, Alex Kirby writes that the Royal Society forthe Protection of Birds asked volunteers to use asplatometer?a cardboard grid developed by the RSPB?to seehow many insects crashed into their license plates. 40,000people volunteered for the Big Bug Count, and the number ofbugs was much lower than expected?only about one insect forevery five miles. Fewer bugs means less food for birds andbugs exposed to too much pesticide can cause birds to actbizarrely.
Andy Coghlan writes in New Scientist that biologists havelong known that chemicals that mimic estrogens can causegender problems for animals, but now it’s been discoveredthat chemical pollution is having a bigger impact on animalsthan scientists suspected.
In one study, male starlings exposed to an insecticidedecreased their singing by 50%, meaning they?re unlikely toattract females or produce many young. Newts exposed to lowlevels of the pesticide found it harder to sniff out mates.If this type of pollution continues unchecked, some animalspecies may suddenly disappear. Toxicologist EthanClotfelter says, “You might see behavioral effects longbefore you see a population crash.”
Pollution expert John McCarty says, “It seems to me thatthis body of evidence was pushed to the background whilemost environmental scientists and regulators focused on[human] mortality and cancer rates.”
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