Pesticides found to starve fish ‘astoundingly fast’

Report from The Guardian:-

“The Silent Spring prophecy that pesticides could “still the leaping of fish” has been confirmed, according to scientists investigating the collapse of fisheries in Japan. They say similar impacts are likely to have occurred around the world.

The long-term study showed an immediate plunge in insect and plankton numbers in a large lake after the introduction of neonicotinoid pesticides to rice paddies. This was rapidly followed by the collapse of smelt and eel populations, which had been stable for decades but rely on the tiny creatures for food. … ”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/31/fishery-collapse-confirms-silent-spring-pesticide-prophecy

Invasive Asian Hornet Identification

Invasive non-native Asian hornets ( Vespa velutina) have been sighted in the UK since 2016. It is important to be able to distinguish them from our native Eurpoean hornets ( Vespa crabro).

According to Jess Chappell from the RSPB’s nature policy team, these are the distinguishing features to look out for:-

Our native European hornet has a brown and yellow striped abdomen and an orangey brown thorax and head. The Asian hornet has a black thorax, an orangey brown head and a mostly dark abdomen with a yellow/orange 4th abdominal segment.

The legs of European hornets are dark but the Asian hornets have bright yellow tips to their legs

Asian hornets are smaller than European hornets (European queens up to 35mm; Asian queens up to 30mm)

Asian hornets are day-flying insects and are not active at night whereas our native European hornets are active at night.

The invasive non-native Asian hornet is an aggressive predator of pollinating insects, including honeybees and wasps. It does not pose any greater risk to humans than our native hornets or bees but we are advised not to disturb a suspected nest . It was first found in France in 2004 and subsequently found in Jersey. It is now on the UK mainland and was first sighted in Gloucester and Somerset in September 2016: the latest sighting was in October 2019 in Dorset.

The UK government is keen to stop this non-native hornet becoming established in the UK. If established it could cause significant losses to bee colonies and potentially other native pollinating insects. We are asked to report any suspected sightings. New queens emerge from hibernation in February so this will be the time to be vigilant. The hornets are active from February to November.

Sightings should be reported to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at alertnonnative@ceh.ac.uk with location details and a photo if possible. Or fill out the report form on their website.

The NNSS ( the Non-native Species secretariat) has downloadable information sheets on their website www.nonnativespecies.org

The British Beekeepers Association also has information and an Asian Hornet incursion map on www.bbka.org.uk/asian-hornet-incursion-map

The State of Nature in Wales

The State of Nature, a summary for Wales:-

“Changing agricultural management has had the biggest single impact upon nature in recent decades.

Our measure of species’ distribution, covering a broad range of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, has declined since 1970, with more species decreasing than increasing. The rate of this change in nature appears to be increasing: our statistics indicate that over the last decade nearly half of the species for which we have data have shown strong changes in distribution.  8% of species in Wales are threatened with extinction.”

https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-Wales-summary.pdf

https://nbn.org.uk/stateofnature2019/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/03/populations-of-uks-most-important-wildlife-have-plummeted-since-1970

Full report:-
https://nbn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Nature-2019-UK-full-report.pdf

Full report summary:-
The State of Nature Report 2019-Summary

Verges are plantlife rich

The charity Plantlife says “An astonishing number of wild plants grow on our road verges, some of which are threatened or near threatened.  Proper management of verges is critical if these species are to avoid extinction. Includes a list of known plants found on a road verge in the UK.”

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/our-work/publications/road-verges-last-refuge-for-some-of-our-rarest-wild-plants.

“Of the 1,596 species we looked at 724 or 45.3% grow on verge habitats.  If we add in hedgerow and ditch habitats, the total rises to 809 species or over 50.7% of our flora.”

Cutting roadside verges later

Guardian newspaper report:-

“Britain could enjoy 400bn more flowers if road verges were cut later and less often according to guidelines drawn up by wildlife charities, highways authorities and contractors.

The national guidance for managing roadside verges for wildflowers calls for just two cuts a year – instead of four or more – and only after flowers have set seed, to restore floral diversity and save councils money. It would also provide grassland habitat the size of London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Edinburgh combined.

The recommendations have been produced by the wildlife charity Plantlife, backed by national highways agencies, the industry bodies Skanska and Kier, as well as Natural England and other environmental groups.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/27/uk-roadsides-verge-wildlife-corridors-guidelines-wildflowers?fbclid=IwAR33h3QnZ00NyZpeM1CNZhS09RxR0Mr3siJYMPZw2rJCwSO8tCe8PtcmJIY

How do chemicals affect bees?

Pesticides reduce their egg-laying capabilities

Researchers found 26% of queen bumblebees treated with insecticides, stopped founding new colonies after winter hibernation.  This means over a quarter of bumblebee nests are being lost every year, increasing their chances of extinction.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/08/14/542895824/popular-pesticides-keep-bumblebees-from-laying-eggs?t=1566656775002


Pesticides affect male bees’ sperm health

Researchers found drones (male honey bees) with neonicotinoid exposure did not have reduced sperm count, but did have reduced sperm viability.  Their conclusion finds that pesticides leads to queen honey bees failing to become properly fertilised and leads to premature colony failure.

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rspb.2016.0506


Glyphosate reduces healthy gut microbiome in honey bees

Glyphosate is a very successful herbicide because it targets an enzyme usually only found in plants. However, gut bacteria in honey bees also contain this enzyme and once affected by glyphosate, increases their susceptibility to infection by disease and other pathogens.

Research has shown glyphosate leads to a weakened immune system in bees, and could be one of the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder.

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/41/10305


Fungicides reduce beneficial fungi in Bee Bread

Honey bees use pollen to make what is known as “bee bread”. This is where they collect pollen, then mix it with a bit of nectar and some of their digestive fluids before tightly packing it into their cells where it ferments. Fermentation breaks down proteins into important vitamins such as amino acids, lactic acid, and vitamin K. Honey bees eat this because it is a source of medicine, as pollen comes from a wide range of plant sources – just as we get our vitamins from a wide range of fruit and vegetables.

But fungicide research has shown that it reduces beneficial fungi needed for bee bread fermentation, leading to inferior quality bee bread which reduces their immune system and ironically leads to more fungal disease – such as Chalkbrood.

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15287394.2013.798846


Neonicotinoid exposure damages bees brains and affects their ability to forage

Researchers have found “rapid mitochondrial depolarization in neurons” in bumblebees exposed to neonicotinoids – meaning the plasma membrane of a muscle or nerve changes in permeability, affecting how cells transmit nerve impulses.

They found that bees suffered poor navigation, which led to poor foraging, which then led to a deficit in colony growth and contributed to bumblebee decline.

https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.14-267179?sid=c056c9e0-9441-4180-8cbf-0d912050cfe2


Get updates from https://cyrene.co.uk/how-do-chemicals-affect-bees/

Roadside verges – campaign progress

A BBC report:- “A long-running campaign encouraging councils to let neatly-mown grass verges become mini meadows where wildflowers and wildlife can flourish appears to be building up a head of steam.

Since 2013, Plantlife has been telling authorities the move could help them save money and boost their green credentials.

Several have taken the message on board. An eight-mile “river of flowers” alongside a major route in Rotherham was widely praised on social media recently and roadside meadows have also popped up in Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Birmingham, Newcastle and Sheffield.

So are we likely to see more from the “meadow movement” in the future?”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48772448?SThisFB&fbclid=IwAR2LDmFN9VeCz2lcc5g6OnWnbeF7jLCaIjfLvZu95GBNOsU5_1JGPpUEPoM

https://www.plantlife.org.uk/uk/blog/whats-in-store-for-the-road-verge-campaign-in-2019

 

Web Links to Loss of Biodiversity Articles

Huffington Post: Recolouring The Countryside – Why We Need To Put Meadows Back On The Map:
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/recolouring-the-countryside-why-we-need-to-put-meadows_uk_5a96d715e4b062df100e865c

ITV News: Wildflowers and insects under threat due to vanishing meadows, experts warn:
https://www.itv.com/news/2018-07-06/wildflowers-and-insects-under-threat-due-to-vanishing-meadows-experts-warn/

The Guardian: Plummeting insect numbers ‘threaten collapse of nature’:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/feb/10/plummeting-insect-numbers-threaten-collapse-of-nature

The Guardian: World’s food supply under ‘severe threat’ from loss of biodiversity:
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/feb/21/worlds-food-supply-under-severe-threat-from-loss-of-biodiversity

BBC News: UN: Growing threat to food from decline in biodiversity:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47308235

BBC News: Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction’:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48169783

New Scientist: Destruction of nature is as big a threat to humanity as climate change:
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2201697-destruction-of-nature-is-as-big-a-threat-to-humanity-as-climate-change/

Do a Pollinator Monitoring Survey

“The Pollinator Monitoring and Research Partnership (PMRP) aims to establish how insect pollinator populations are changing across Great Britain.

We are working with existing recording schemes that focus on pollinating insects, and have established new large-scale surveys under the UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme banner (PoMS)

PoMS is the only scheme in the world generating systematic data on the abundance of bees, hoverflies and other flower-visiting insects at a national scale (currently across England, Wales and Scotland). Together with long-term occurrence records collated by the Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society and Hoverfly Recording Scheme, these data will form an invaluable resource from which to measure trends in pollinator populations and target our conservation efforts.

With reports of dramatic losses of insects occurring across the globe, and concern about what this means for wider biodiversity and ecosystem health, there has never been a more important time to document evidence of change in populations of pollinating insects.

FIT Counts: if you can spare ten minutes to sit and watch insects and flowers you can carry out a FIT Count (Flower-Insect Timed Count)! This simple survey collects data on the total number of insects that visit a particular flower, ideally chosen from our list of 14 target flowers. FIT Counts can be done anywhere, including gardens and parks, in warm, dry weather any time from April to September. If you can carry out several counts at one location during that time you will be adding extra value to your survey records. All the information you need is provided on their web site:”

https://www.ceh.ac.uk/our-science/projects/pollinator-monitoring

 

A third of British wild bees and hoverflies are in decline

A widespread loss of pollinating insects in recent decades has been revealed by the first national survey in Britain, which scientists say “highlights a fundamental deterioration” in nature.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/mar/26/widespread-losses-of-pollinating-insects-revealed-across-britain

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47698294